Martin Luther King Jr. Day had us thinking hard about living non-violently in a world whose violence, both global and personal, seems to have mightily escalated over the past few years. What are ways that ordinary people can spread light rather than darkness through the day?
Lebanese graffiti artists Mohamed and Omar Kabbani, who grew up amidst the brutal civil war in Lebanon, figured out an astonishing way. They created the ASHEKMAN street art project, painting salam the Arabic word for peace across bullet-pocked rooftops in the city of Tripoli’s Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbahah neighborhoods, where sectarian violence flaredover the years.
Their salam spans 85 structures across a nearly-mile wide area.
The Kajaanis hired workers from both neighborhoods to help complete the project, clearing roofs of trash and debris to ready them for the paint that would seal rooftops against rain and reflect the sun, to cool the homes below, an added benefit.
Walid Abu Heit, who grew up in Bab al-Tabbahah and worked on the project summed it up:
It was very difficult when fighting broke out. Darkness engulfed the neighborhood. People stopped coming here.
It’s an amazing project. The word peace, it’s a great word… we haven’t seen it for a long time, now we’re seeing it again.
Somehow we get the feeling that that peaceful salam is not only seen from long distances, but felt.
Bill Evans’ Peace Piece comes to mind…