By Tacie Holyoak
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday April 1, 2003
In a dark and quiet room, messages of peace were shared Saturday evening through artwork, song and readings from local authors including UA creative writing professor, Fenton Johnson.
Johnson, who read from his book, "Keeping Faith: A Skeptic's Journey," was among several peace supporters who filled the basement of the Benedictine Monastery for the Tucson Interfaith Artists for Peace in Iraq.
His readings encouraged others to "forgive the unforgivable" and "choose love when anger is so close at hand."
Johnson said he believes he is doing his part to promote peace in the university community by encouraging his students to explore their feelings about the war and creating space for discussion. He has also committed to giving his time to share his writings with others.
"I'm not doing as much of my own work," he said. "This is what I should be doing."
The group gathered as peacemakers to share in the experience of the arts and regain a spirit of tranquility while voicing their resistance to war in a constructive, nonviolent way, said Rev. Rachel Srubas, organizer of the night's events.
Supporters joined in songs that called for everyone to learn to live together in the world and to cooperate, working for change.
"(We need to) create a space in our hearts in which everyone can dwell," said author Beverly Lanzetta.
Patricia Morrison, a speaker from the American Friends Service Committee, was grateful to the attendees.
"The artwork is significant," she said. "Just as we are surrounded by beauty, it is good to recognize the beauty around you every day, especially in times of conflict."
"It's easy to feel negative," she added. "It's important for people to voice their frustration but also important to come back down to a calmer place within yourself."
"There is a sense of reinforcement you get being with others," Johnson said. It gives hope in the face of the bombs falling."
Speakers encouraged supporters to do what they can for the cause ÷ to voice their opinions nonviolently and participate in community functions that promote peace.
Some opportunities to gather together include Children Praying for Peace, April 3 at 6 p.m. in front of the Islamic Center of Tucson, and the University Peace Witness, continuing daily from 8 a.m. ÷ 5 p.m. on the UA Mall and all night on the fourth floor of the UA library.