Last night, I received the Grace Lee Peace Award. Now, first off, it is not often that you hear of someone receiving an award for peace. Lots of awards and promotions and metals given out for war, but usually not for peace. So, I feel this was sweet for them to think of me. The other person they honored was Bob Smith, who speaks at some of our rallies, runs the local Community Action Board and happens to go to my church, or 'meeting for worship' as we call it. Better known as the Asheville Friends Meeting.
It was Buzz Lee who called me to tell me that I had won this award and he also told me that the award was named after his mother, Grace Lee. Grace was a life-long activist for peace and social justice issues, and Buzz, her son, is an activist also. He is also an active member of the local Democrat Party, and he lives in a retirement home lately. Buzz is a sweet guy, and I first got to know him when he sent in a donation and a letter to the WNC Peace Coalition because of an editorial I wrote. That was a few years back.
Anyway, I knew this Peace Award was part of a program called the Davidson Roundtable, which is a lecture series on social justice issues. I never seem to have time to attend these free lectures, but they often have very interesting speakers, and the main speaker is followed by a roundtable discussion with some individuals who are active in the issues being address. Last night they had Hodding Carter III as the main speaker, and I did not know who he was so I looked him up on google, and found out he was a journalist, as was his father, in the deep south during the civil rights era. He also worked as an assistant secretary of state for the Carter administration (no relation) and is currently a professor at UNC-CH.
I found his speech very interesting. He described how his positions on civil rights issues evolved, along with various other issues that he faced in his life. One of these was the issue of violence via guns, or the threat of such violence. His family had guns during the time they had problems with their white neighbors over civil rights issues, and they believed and the community believed that they would use them if they felt a need. One night they sat up all night expecting trouble, but none came. The next night, they were so exhausted they all went to sleep, and that night someone burned a cross on their yard. Hodding said that the family is very grateful today that they were all asleep, because if they were awake, they would have shot at them. Turns out it was a pack of kids, acting out their parent's hatred. Hodding went on to say how he had a gun on him every day for five years, and never took it out of his holster, until 1964. One day that year, he took it off and got rid of all the guns in the family. He did it because he brother had died from a gun accident.
So, he felt the guns kept him and his family safe, until his brother died. One is left to wonder how they would have fared without any guns at all during those years. Would they have been subjected to violence? Would his brother still be alive? The answer to the last one is "most likely".
I found all their discussion very interesting, but before they spoke, I was given the Grace Lee Peace Award. Buzz introduced me by saying that I am an audiologist and that whenever there is a rally or event in Asheville concerning peace or social justice issues, I am always there and nearly always one of the organizers. I spent a few minutes speaking on EYES WIDE OPEN, an exhibit that is coming to Asheville next weekend that I am very involved with currently. I spoke on the WNC Peace Coalition and I spoke on the fact that war does not work and that we need to abolish war altogether.
Sure enough, one of the later speakers had to mention that sometimes "we have to fight". Well, if we "have to fight" how come we never seem to get to the point where the problems are solved and we don't have to fight? One of the main reasons I feel we have to stop war is because if we continue on this path, one day we may find ourselves in a nuclear war. And that would be suicide for most of the planet. I also feel war is a horrible thing to have happen to your home and community.
Anyway, I did not know it until last night, but the Grace Lee Peace Award came with a check. I was thinking it would be $50 or so, and that I would donate it to the Peace Coalition. Well, turns out they gave me a check for considerably more than that, and a W-9 form to go with it. So I will put it in the bank until I figure out how much taxes on it I have to pay. And I have a certificate which I will frame. Here's my ideas for how to obtain a Peace Award:
1. Show Up
2. Do the work
3. Get Lucky!
Really, I have never understood why some good things get attention and rewarded while other things are just ignored, and how some people get recognized and others don't. I guess all you can really do is what you think is a good use of your time overall, and try to better the world. I am very honored to be given an award for peace! And I hope what I do does help promote peace in the world.