Hi! My name is Alyssa. I’m a senior in college, graduating in December, and a member of a leadership society on my college campus. Heather has asked me to talk about a project our organization is hosting, so that’s what brings me to Doves and Serpents.
In 2010, Karen Walrond, a blogger and author of “The Beauty of Different,” was taken aback by the actions of a church in Florida. On September 11 of that year, the church was planning to burn mass amounts of the Quran. Karen hated what this church was about to do, so she asked her followers to send her images of whatever they considered peaceful – she called it a photobomb. She would collect all the images – or homemade cards, coloring book pages, etc. – to send to this church as a reminder that the church’s mission “should always and eternally be one of peace.” Hundreds of pictures and cards later, Karen sent the box – decorated by her daughter with rainbows and more peaceful messages – to the church in Florida.
That’s the back story. Our story, here at my university, is almost the same, just tweaked a little bit. We are working on our own photobomb project, what we have called the Peace Project, as part of our annual leadership conference in November. Our images will be heading to Kansas, to Westboro Baptist Church, the group which protests military funerals.
Why did we decide to do the Peace Project? Besides the fact that Karen Walrond is one of our guest speakers (along with Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi), as a whole our organization decided it would be good for the campus to participate in a peaceful act against Westboro. We wanted to educate students on a different way to demonstrate their frustration with groups such as Westboro, as well as promote peace.
Why did we choose Westboro? At some point in time, almost everyone has met or known someone in the military, or been in the military themselves. The student in charge of our conference is a military veteran, having served our country. Our organization’s president has even had a personal encounter with Westboro – the church protested her high school friend’s funeral.
Whether you believe in war or not, this project is beyond that. The Peace Project is meant for peace – that’s it. While most of us disagree with Westboro’s actions, we are not a group standing in front of them, yelling counter remarks at them. This project is meant to be a peaceful reminder that as a church, Westboro should be loving and caring, welcoming and forgiving, not angry and spiteful.
The rules for the Peace Project are simple:
1. Pictures must be an image of something you consider peaceful.
2. Write a message of peace in the e-mail. It can be a quote, saying, biblical verse, etc.
3. Absolutely no messages of hate or anger.
Pictures may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org until November 11. The slideshow below shows what some of our peers have sent in so far. If your photos are sent in before Nov. 5, they will be included in an art installation at the leadership conference.