Karaoke at the snack by Trevor Hartsell

sign of peace

There is a little profane language in this post. If you don’t want to read it please stop now and check back in next week. Niall

Those who seek competition are making a grave mistake. To smash, injure or destroy is the worst sin a human being can commit. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent slaughter – it is the Art of Peace, the power of love.
Morihei Ueshiba, founder of aikido, The Art of Peace

The time of universal peace is near.
Prove this a prosp’rous day, the three-nooked world
Shall bear the olive freely.

William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra act 4 scene 6

The earth makes a sound as of sighs and the last drops fall from the emptied cloudless sky. A small boy, stretching out his hands and looking up at the blue sky, asked his mother how such a thing was possible. Fuck off, she said.
Samuel Beckett, The End

Christy Brown: Fock ahv.
Dr. Eileen Colt: With speech therapy, I can teach you to say “fuck off” more clearly.

from the movie adaptation of Christy Brown’s autobiography My Left Foot

If someone takes out a camera in Japan young people all pose flashing two-finger peace signs. In the UK that palm out V-sign is a victory sign. Winston Churchill used it during the second world war as a powerful symbol of hope.

In Japan the sign meant victory until the early nineteen-seventies. There was a sports serial drama on television called Sign wa V. It was about volleyball. Volleyball became wildly popular after the Japanese women’s volleyball team won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. The V in the title meant victory.

Then in 1972 the meaning of a V-sign shifted from victory to peace. It already had started to be used in that sense in the USA against the war in Vietnam. At the 1972 Sapporo winter Olympics Janet Lynn, an American figure skater, became very popular in Japan. She fell during her free skating program. She smiled and still went on to win the bronze medal. She became a symbol of figure skating and of the purity of sport. She flashed a V for peace sign in many of her public appearances. Then camera commercials for Konica showed the singer and actor Jun Inoue doing the peace V-sign. For young people it gradually became an automatic reaction to someone aiming a camera.

But it also has an omote and an ura. A front side and a reverse side. The peace sign has the palm facing out. If the palm faces in the gesture is an insult in the UK and Ireland and Australia and New Zealand. Or sometimes an act of defiance.

Many cultures use peace in their greetings. Islam and Hebrew use phrases like peace be upon you or peace be to you in daily greetings. Some Christian services include peace be to you. One day, one day, we will all mean it.



main photo Karaoke at the snack by Trevor Hartsell; photostream

Cruising for Peace? by iMorpheus/Derek A; photostream

Kes poster from the British Film Institute

Steve McQueen v-sign link from Wikipedia

John Stevens, The Art of Peace on Amazon

Samuel Beckett, The Complete Short Prose on Amazon

Christy Brown, My Left Foot on Amazon

William Shakespeare, Complete Works on project gutenberg

This post is published simultaneously on the aikido site aikiweb

my columns on aikiweb:
Aikido Teaching Information Silence

Aiki and Kokyu Ryoku
Martial Arts in Manga and Anime
Indigo Blue
Improvised Weapons No.1: The Umbrella
Unbalance – Feet of Clay
Half a Tatami
Zen in the Art of Aikido

I have an essay in a charity e-book put together by some writers and photographers to raise money for victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku on 11 March 2011. It costs $9.99.

© niall matthews 2012


  1. niall

    Thanks Carina. Yes those are both memorable movies. Kes is one of my favourite movies. Thanks for the poem of Christy Brown. I tried to find some a while ago and it seems that his poetry is already out of print. That is really a pity.

  2. Thanks Niall for this interesting post and the movies. Saw Kes and even I couldn’t understand all the english I liked it very much, you can see the whole movie in youtube in 7 parts, this is the first one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOB8cwxSh-w after this you’ll find the rest.
    I also saw My left foot in spanish and it has a great message, Christy Brown could accomplish all he did because of his beautiful and always believing in him mother. Here a poem of him Sunday visit http://rinabeana.com/poemoftheday/index.php/category/christy-brown/

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