The Drums of World Peace Play on Venice Beach
Sometimes I forget how close the world is. From where we live I can be in New York in six hours, London in 10, Beijing in 12 or Sydney in 15.
Or I can simply walk down to Venice Beach on any given Sunday and both see and feel the world spread across the sand in the form of the flags of 195 countries. Their colors, waving in the wind, remind me of how close we are — or should be.
Each flag represents a people, a culture, an ecosystem, a part of the world with its own customs and riches and needs.
Each one also represents a call for peace — for that specific country and for the global community of which it is part. In fact, the volunteers of the world peace movement known as DrumDancePray say a prayer for peace as each flag is planted in the sand, joining their voices with others who are planting flags on other beaches, meadows or gathering spaces in Spain, France, India and elsewhere on the planet.
As the flags are set flying, the sounds of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of drums fill the air. They play on until the sun sets and often beyond that. You can hear them a mile from the beach: the pum pum pum of hope; the bam, bam, bam of faith in humanity; the drumming for world accord in response to a world suffering from great discord.
Every Sunday year-round.
It starts out small, but as the day opens, the drum circle expands, and the pulse deepens. People — locals and tourists of all sizes and ages — come to play or dance or meditate under the sun (or the marine layer, depending on the time of year). The noise, the circle of drummers and the rows of flags are a united power to behold, a thrumming, swaying, moving meditation; a call to world leaders to find lasting peace through mindful presence. When it continues past dusk it sometimes garners a call to police from annoyed neighbors. When it does, it rarely gets shut down.
On a recent Sunday, Joe and I and our friend Anna walked among the flags trying to identify different countrie. We're slightly embarrassed at the gaps in our collective geography. We moved from the flag installation to the drum circle and on to the rainbow colored life guard shack just down the beach. So much is being said in this tiny patch of beach.
As we settled near the surf, our dog and several others illegally frolicked in the sand heedless of the rules. For some reason dogs are not allowed on most Southern California beaches. As sound and heart moved out from Venice and into the greater world, I felt connected to that greater whole, my heart beat in sync with the drums urging of reconciliation.
Despite arriving at the beach disheartened by yet another terrorist attack in Europe and another shooting here in America, I left the beach with a heart filled with hope.
DrumDancePray extends beyond Venice Beach. This is how they describe their movement:
“We are servants of world peace; praying for an end to all wars, hunger, malnutrition, starvation, and homelessness inspiring the development of a pure relationship with Mother Earth.”
The group hopes to create weekly 4-hour DrumDancePray Sunday events in each of the 50 United States and in all 195 countries of the world, uniting participants across borders and time zones.
Amity among all nations IS possible. But diplomacy and politics don’t seem to be getting us any closer to that goal.
I think maybe it’s time to follow the music and give peace — and prayer and drumming and mindfulness — a chance.
To learn more about about the peace flags and drums, go to DrumDancePray.com