In Your Opinion: ‘Peace And Non-Violence’ Memorial Has Potential To Be Divisive

By Arnold W. Schmidt, Somerset

The placement in Franklin Township of life size statues and busts of Mother Theresa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela for a proposed Peace and Non-Violence park is being hotly debated and is potentially divisive.

These are four people who are accepted worldwide as having performed great and honorable endeavors. The debate includes if Franklin accepts these donated works, where they should be placed. In this beautifully diverse town of ours, depending on your religious, cultural, political or other views, there is disagreement about this project and eventually someone will feel left out.

I have come across several conflicting points of view regarding this project in conversations with residents as well as Township Council members and clergy. As wonderful as the lifelong achievements of the above mentioned individuals were, more than one of them had character flaws, including philandering and the abuse of women and children. For these reasons disagreement looms over who, if anyone, should be presented on township-owned property. Some people also believe there is only one person or entity that is worthy of this proposed reverence. Others will name legendary prophets who could be honored and from whom we can learn.

As noted in a recent Franklin Reporter & Advocate article, Bob LaCorte suggested that a plaque with honorees’ names on it attached to a rock surrounded by Peace Roses and butterfly bushes may be the appropriate way to go. In a subsequent conversation I had with Bob, he suggested what may be the most inclusive solution: a simple inscription on the plaque, maybe “Peace and Tranquility” instead of the aforementioned names. People would be able to go to the park, sit on the benches, surrounded by trees and nature for reflection and quiet time. Peaceful, tranquil, non-violent – certainly not divisive.

In my conversations I have suggested that mandatory classes be included in our schools’ curricula, specifically about these people and others who have promoted peace and non-violence as ways to solve our world’s issues. Instead of placing these four people on pedestals why not educate our children with unbiased discussion of the issues, while learning for ourselves as well? If we try to emulate their better sides, we can promote peace and harmony which would hopefully pave the way for lasting non-violence.

Photo: VOA News.

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