THOUSAND CRANES PEACE NETWORK
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|Mark and Lyn Butz live in Canberra, Australia.
Mark works as a consultant in communication and participation in the areas of environment, heritage and community development, while Lyn works in respite care and as a medical receptionist.
This is a brief history of how we came to be coordinators of the international Thousand Cranes Peace Network.
Student days - foundations
|Mark's first encounter with the Sadako story came
in his teenage years when he read a library book The Day of the Bomb
by Karl Bruckner (originally published in German as Sadako will leben):
"I recall that both the suffering recounted in the story and its message
of hope moved me deeply. I was also very impressed that children
had combined their energies to collect subscriptions to erect the statue
(the Children's Monument) in the Hiroshima Peace Park. I recognised
its warning that nuclear weapons were lying in wait and could be used to
unleash an even greater horror than the world saw at Hiroshima.
"In my teenage years I was very fearful that nuclear war would break out. When we went to shows and exhibitions, the Civil Defence people handed out leaflets about 'What to do in the event of a nuclear attack' and 'How to build your fallout shelter'. I still have these horrid leaflets - they scared me then, and they scare me still because they are so matter-of-fact and tend to treat nuclear warfare as something inevitable."
During these years the so-called Cold War between the USA and the USSR was at its height. Atomic tests were a regular event, with both sides trying to outgun their opponent with the notion that having ever more weapons would act as a deterrent to anyone thinking of using those weapons, because mutual destruction would be the result.
At the end of the 1960's the Vietnam War was in full swing and young men were being conscripted to military service and exported to the war zone. Mark recalls being deeply affected by the scale of civilian casualties and the nature of the indiscriminate weapons being used on villagers.
He remembered well the effect of Sadako's story - the tale of an innocent victim - and saw no real difference between the barbarity of the atomic bomb being used on innocent women and children in Hiroshima and the use of napalm on women and children in Indochina. Every night the TV brought vision of death and carnage to our dinner table, and we saw footage of murders and the aftermath of massacres. Mark became an active campaigner against this war as part of a broader campaign against war as a means of resolving conflicts.
At university Mark attended a talk by a Japanese anti-nuclear campaigner, Rev. Gyotsu Sato, at the time of the French nuclear testing in the Pacific. After the talk he was handed some badges (which he still treasures) inscribed in Japanese: 'No more Hiroshimas', 'No nuclear weapons' and 'Bikini Test 1 March' [a nuclear test which led to radioactive fallout on a Japanese fishing crew]. This renewed his interest in nuclear issues and he began to read more widely. Once again, Sadako's story emerged as a powerful source of motivation to do whatever he could to work for peace.
Mark and a fellow student from the fledgling Whole Earth Society collaborated with scientists at Macquarie University to prepare an anti-nuclear test supplement to the Students' Council magazine Arena, and coordinated a range of awareness and direct action campaigns to draw attention to French testing in the Pacific.
In the late 1980's the Karl Bruckner book Day of The Bomb
came back into our lives in a curious way, among some old books which were
no longer required by a hospital mobile library. We were invited
to pick out any books we wanted before they were disposed of - and
here it was again, twenty years after first reading it! What was even
more interesting was the book had come to the hospital after being disposed
of from the library of Mark's old high school, which had purchased it the
year after he had left the school. Through this strange 'coincidence',
Day of The Bomb was Lyn's introduction to the Sadako story,
just as it had been Mark's introduction twenty years earlier.
The effect of the story on both of us laid the foundations for what was
Parenthood and Hiroshima - commitment
|We became absorbed in parenthood during the 1980's
and over time became involved with our local Aranda Primary School through
its environment program. We worked with a teacher at the school to
design a program which promotes action as an antidote to fear. So
many students in the late 1980's were depressed by the atmosphere of doom
and gloom which the media were breeding about environmental issues.
Some of these global issues seemed just so huge that students felt powerless
and in time hopeless - they were despairing that they would even have a future.
This connected with Mark's own youthful feelings of despair in the face
of the threat of nuclear warfare.
We were determined to provide students with opportunities to act
- to engage in projects and activities that would help them to make a difference,
no matter how large the issue. This approach was tremendously successful
and the program has won many awards and received widespread recognition.
In 1995 attention was focused on commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Just about every major battle had its own event, with the customary remembrance focus. But none of these events seemed to offer any real lessons beyond a sense of human loss in the past, and none offered a tangible sense of hope for the future.
As part of the environment program we decided to mark the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August - an event which was not being marked at all by the official Australian commemorative program. We took the approach that this tragic event led to the birth of a peace movement which was truly global. It galvanised people of all walks of life into active work for peace and for a future which was free of the threat of nuclear warfare.
Naturally, Sadako's story became the focus for our activities and we were keen to fold paper cranes to send to Hiroshima if that was possible. But we had a lot of trouble locating usable folding instructions and had no idea where to send cranes if we could fold them.
Then began a new series of remarkable 'coincidences'. Firstly, we were contacted with a request to show a Japanese visitor around the school's environment education resources. It turned out that the visitor, Mr Shin Yoshida, was also a peace educator with contacts in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki and he agreed to help put us in touch with a school in one of those places.
At this time we acquired Eleanor Coerr's book Sadako with its beautiful pastel illustrations by Ed Young, and the associated video from Informed Democracy, and began to discover other useful resources, including the song 'Sadako from Hiroshima'.
Aranda Primary School held its peace ceremony on 6 August, planting cherry blossoms in an area which it was decided would be a new community peace garden, and singing songs about Sadako - her story was beginning to touch a new generation of children.
In September a large envelope arrived from Hakushima Elementary School
in Hiroshima - inside were peace messages from the students, drawings and
photographs from their observance of the 50th anniversary, and step-by-step
instructions on how to fold cranes (in Japanese but very easy to follow!).
At almost the same time Mark received an invitation to speak at a
forum in Kyoto and was able to spend a little extra time in Japan to visit
Hiroshima. In November 1995, with lots of help from Mr Yoshida, Mark
was able to visit Hakushima Elementary School, place Aranda students' cranes
at the Children's Monument and examine the Peace Memorial Museum.
Mark found the whole experience very moving and wept for the pain and suffering
which the people of Hiroshima had endured.
As they walked past Hiroshima castle, Mr Yoshida asked Mark why it was so important for him to visit the Peace Park: When Mark explained as best as he could, Mr Yoshida summed up: 'So, it is a kind of pilgrimage.' And he was right - Mark knew the place so well from photos and books but knew deep in his heart that I needed to go there and to see and feel it for himself. When Mark was leaving the Aranda cranes, he felt that he should add a message, and struggled with what to write on their wings. His feelings suddenly made sense when he was moved to write: 'May all children live without fear'.
Mark came away from Hiroshima emotionally exhausted but with a renewed commitment to do whatever he could to make sure that this horror would not happen again - to become an active worker for peace, non-violence and tolerance.
Birth of a Network - fulfilment
|Some time after Mark's return from Hiroshima we
decided to embark on a very ambitious project - to link up enough crane
folders to create a million paper cranes for peace by the year 2000.
It was pretty obvious that this required an extensive, powerful and economical
communications medium - that meant the World Wide Web, about which we knew
In October 1996 we connected to the Web and to email at home - now the learning process really began! After a few preliminary searches we began to see how this could work, and late in 1996 Susan Parker in the USA very kindly carried our first 'mini-page' on the project on her Cranes for Peace site - and we still receive enquiries from this page.
As our first enquiries began to land, the ideas for the project began to firm up, and by November 1997 we had begun our own site for what was by then being called the Thousand Cranes Peace Network.
Since then the project has brought us into contact with some very wonderful and dedicated people with many imaginative ways of working for peace. Their creativity has inspired the development of a site which seeks to plug the gaps which we encountered when we embarked on our fledgling efforts at crane folding and working to empower children to have hope for their future.
Since the year 2000 project the network has expanded to additional
countries and we will continue to document case studies and profiles of
people in the network, particularly those who have been successfully working
to create peace parks, gardens or monuments. This is intended to provide
inspiration to other people who may have a desire to act but who doubt that
they have either the abilities or the opportunities to achieve their visions.
During 2003 our then 16-year old daughter continued the practice
of taking peace cranes to the Peace Park in Hiroshima.
Last modified 27 September 2006