We’re sometimes cynical about token gestures calling for world peace, but at least this one looks nice. And kinda like that legendary British Airways commercial.
Today at 3 p.m., the Humanist Movement is calling on Torontonians to help assemble a giant human peace sign in Nathan Phillips Square, continuing a tradition started in Budapest and since performed internationally in public spaces. The demonstration is part of an event happening in at least four other cities today (Berlin, San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Cologne and Munich). New York, Bogotá and Kitchener created their versions yesterday. The living peace sign is meant to be viewed and photographed from above, so we encourage contributions to the Torontoist Flickr pool.
Organizers are hoping for more than a thousand people to show up in the square this afternoon to symbolically show an opposition to war, violence, and nuclear weapon development. Events in recent years have obviously focused on the U.S.-led Iraq war, which reached its fourth anniversary yesterday. There will also be an anti-war rally in front of the United States Consulate at 1 p.m. (300 University Avenue), followed by a march through downtown.
The internationally-recognized peace symbol (☮) was popularized in Britain when it was adopted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament during the 1960s. Designed by British graphic designer Gerald Holtom on February 21, 1958, the famous pronged icon is based on the naval semaphoric symbols for “N” and “D” (for Nuclear Disarmament, natch). During the peace movement’s heyday, right-wing, anti-hippie sentiment claimed that it represented the inverted “broken cross” of the Antichrist and even a symbol used by the Nazis. The crows-foot symbol within the circle also resembled roadside signs leading to British airfields.
Toronto’s event—part of the Pan-Canadian Day of Action—is co-sponsored by the Toronto Stop the War Coalition and the Hiroshima Day Coalition. West African-style drummers Ainike and Medicine Song Woman Brenda MacIntyre are set to perform.
“At least once a year I can do something so that there will be peace in the world,” says a somewhat misguided woman in a video about the international event. But every little bit helps, we guess.