American Friends Service Committee
Patrica Watson, Editor
Sara Burke, Assistant Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
Wendy Erd splits her time between Homer, Alaska and Ha Noi, Viet Nam, where she gathers and writes stories of communities.
"Your design should have flowing edges." My older neighbor and friend, Uncle Le, leaned over my sketch in my living room. "The concept of Peace is soft, there should be no hard lines in it."
We settled on a plan. I rode my bicycle into downtown Ha Noi, and near Silk Street, found an embroidery shop to turn philosophy into cloth. I wanted to hang my sentiments on a banner outside our door that faces the common courtyard we share with nineteen Vietnamese families. As an American living in Viet Nam, this is the kind of flag I choose to wave, now that terrorism at home has set the world on a crumbling edge.
This small idea gathered friends and grew. An older auntie in our courtyard called me over to where she and her husband sat under the shade of an egg tree. She handed me a list of words her son had helped compile at his office. Many Vietnamese hands had penned the word for "peace" in the foreign languages they had studied. Only one word was smeared by a drip of ink, Sa lam, Arabic for "peace."
The red-tiled roof of the old French villa that houses the Embassy of Iraq rises above the neighboring houses a half a block from my home. On sultry nights I often nodded in passing to a man with dark eyebrows who stepped outside his high plaster walls onto the city sidewalk for air. I decided to stop at the Embassy and ask the two Vietnamese guards if they might help me. They motioned for me to park my bike. Then they slid open a green metal door in the tall wall.
Back on the street, my heart beat wildly. It had taken nerve
and no nerve at all to cross into my neighbor's home and
ask a favor. Maybe, I thought, this is the soft line Uncle Le
was aiming for.