Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Second Peace Jigsaw Piece: Pictures of Peace

For millenia, we have had the concept of peace – despite the fact that for the same length of time we have managed to wage countless wars and generate countless conflicts.

But the concept remains.

Out of the ancient world comes our first symbol of peace – the olive branch. When we “hold out the olive branch” we want to end a disagreement.

The olive branch then gets picked up by the dove in the story of Noah:

“He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.”

When the dove comes back with the olive leaf in its mouth, it became a symbol for the coming of peace – the tumult is over and peace is on its way.

The story of Noah also contains another symbol that has evolved through the centuries. At the end of the flood, God puts the rainbow in the sky:

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.

Centuries later the rainbow is still a symbol for peace. The Italian “Pace” flag has a rainbow background and the word “Pace” in white on the front. The idea with the colours, apart from the residual connotations from Noah, is unity in diversity – that all the colours of the spectrum together can be one.

A few decades on, and the rainbow flag is modified again and it became a Gay Pride flag, capitalising on the previous versions with their symbolism of hope for the future and unity in diversity. Each colour on the inclusion flag represents a different aspect of human life.

Poppies too have evolved. The original red poppy was to remember the dead. The white poppy looks forward with the hope for no more war. The same thing happened to the “V” sign. Originally it was “V” for Victory, but as time went by it began to be a plea for continued peace.

Once clear symbol of Peace is the CND logo. I was interested to learn that it gets its shape from the semaphore representations of the letters N and D.

It is interesting to see these depictions of Peace change and develop as the centuries and millenia pass. Olive leaves, poppies, rainbows all echoing through history with different connotations for different ages.

And as time passes, mankind dreams up many new ways to destroy each other. Sorry for the pessimistic end to this peace post. I can’t find the quote I was looking for and I don’t know who said it, unless it was me, which I doubt:

“Who can say mankind has not progressed? In each war we kill each other in a new way.”

I’ll unfurl my CND bunting, release the doves and fly the PACE flag and see if I can whip up some solutions for World Peace tomorrow.


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5 thoughts on “Second Peace Jigsaw Piece: Pictures of Peace

  1. Symbols have such power, I think even when operating in the background like subliminal messaging is you will. This is a great series. 😀

  2. The Genesis rainbow thing – I think most modern translations lose the symbolism when they translate the Hebrew word which can mean both rainbow and bow (as in bow and arrow) using the english word ‘rainbow’ which has no archery connotations. The original symbolism, I think, is that God put down his war bow, signifying that he was no longer fighting with man.

    • Nice. I figured that that was why a rainbow was called a rain bow because of the arc shape and all – but wouldn’t have drawn that back to a ‘disarm’ symbol.

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