We can start by forgetting what our parents and teachers taught and talk to strangers Jan. 5. That's what Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken and a host of business, civic and religious leaders want.
Luken has issued a proclamation naming Jan. 5 "Community Day." From 2:00-2:03 p.m. that day, participants will practice "Three Minutes for Peace."
The purpose of the program is to promote peace and harmony in Cincinnati, according to Charles Wallner, one of the organizers of the observance.
"We want people to recognize other people as human beings," he says.
The founders of "Three Minutes for Peace" are the Greater Cincinnati Faith Community Alliance, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Transformation Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky and the Council of Christian Communions, Wallner says.
After observing Peace Day Dec. 31, 2002, the groups decided to reach out to the public, Wallner, says.
"We wanted to deal with an issue that was not inflammatory, that did not challenge -- just people dealing with people," he says.
The groups' goal is for all people to participate.
"There is diversity here," Wallner says.
The obvious question is, why three minutes? That time frame had the most appeal, in part because it is not too long.
"It's a non-threatening time frame; we're not stealing hours from anybody," Wallner says.
Sister Alice Gerdeman, coordinator of the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, suggested the date. Jan. 5 is a good day for "Three Minutes for Peace" because it's at the end of the Christmas season, near the Christian celebration of Epiphany and also at the beginning of the New Year, she says.
"I think that at the beginning of different times, in this case the start of the New Year, it is good for people to do something different to set a tone for the year," Gerdeman says. "This will be a year for struggle. Starting 2004 with a moment when we look at the positive side of each other is very important."
Gerdeman says that during those three minutes she plans to call someone she has not talked to in a while and let him or her know she's thinking of them.
Companies and organizations that have endorsed "Three Minutes for Peace" promise to spread the word.
Attorney Arthur Harmon of Harmon, Davis and Associates heard about the observance through a Christian organization. He has been encouraging clients to participate. Harmon plans to spend his three minutes praying for a better understanding of the need for peace.
Katherine Bennet of the Cincinnati Health Network says her organization hopes to raise awareness across the city and county about the importance of accepting others.
"We just need to focus on peace in the intention to stop the rat race we're in," she says.
Kevin Peas of Serendipity Design says he endorsed the plan because it is so simple and genuine. He says he has blasted it around to everyone he knows and also has information about it on his studio's Web site. Peas plans to spend his three minutes on the phone telling his parents he loves them.
"It's just three minutes, but the significance of all of us doing this at one point is pretty phenomenal," he says.
Among the organizations endorsing "Three Minutes for Peace" are the Cincinnati Board of Rabbis, the Better Housing League of Greater Cincinnati, the Three Square Music Foundation and Grailville.
If we all demand peace, who can keep it from us?
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