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  • Writer's pictureSylvie Barr

The most precious gift of all

Photo credit: Christian Wiediger

Dear all,

Another year has nearly gone by, and what a year it’s been… Again!

Amongst the turbulence most of us have experienced - some even at much higher levels than others - I wanted to wish you the most precious gift of all for the holiday season and for the new year: PEACE.

As you know, I help business owners build their authentic brand by rooting it in their SELF.

So before I tell you a bit more about why I chose the theme of peace this year, I’d like to tell you the story of the peace sign, and the man who created it.

Back in 1958, British graphic designer and Christian pacifist Gerald Holtom was tasked with creating the banners and signs for a nuclear disarmament march in London. He wanted a visual that would stick in the public's mind.

Based on naval semaphore flags that sailors use to communicate, Holtom combined the codes for "N" (two flags angled down at a 45 degrees) for "nuclear" and "D" (one flag pointed straight up and one flag pointed straight down) for "disarmament."

But, in a 1973 letter to the editor of Peace News, Holtom suggested the inspiration was also darker and more personal. "I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya's peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it. It was ridiculous at first and such a puny thing.”

The symbol was adopted by the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, of which Holtom was a member, and made its public debut at the Easter weekend of 1958.

Two years later, the symbol appeared in the corner of a pamphlet for the Committee for Nonviolent Action — an American anti-nuclear group. By the mid-1960s, the peace symbol was popping up on pins, Vietnam protest posters, and T-shirts.

Then, the symbol seemed to be everywhere — scribbled on public surfaces in chalk, spray paint, marker, or a finger in wet cement like a secret code, a siren call to fellow pacifists.

There’s been so much disturbing our peace lately, and I won’t go into the details as you don’t need me to rub it in…

The Serenity prayer goes: ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’

I was upset when I learnt that in the end we wouldn’t be able to go to France and spend Christmas with my Mum and Dad. Then I remembered the prayer, and the advice of a very good friend - that even better than to seek happiness, it is for one to be at peace - peace in their mind and peace in their heart.

There have been so many challenges for all of us, but if in our hearts of hearts we can say that we gave it our best shot and that there are things we simply can not change, it will bring us that wonderful feeling of being at peace.

So I leave you with this song, enjoy plenty of rest and peaceful relaxation during the festive season, and see you in 2022 🙏🏻

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