The Universal Flag Peace Movement
by Lexi Soulios
We first saw the Universal Flag in 2002, and since that time it has made its way into more than 150 countries. School children from Namibia to Chicago are greeted by the flag each morning. It welcomes visitors to an equine-assisted learning centre in Saskatchewan, Canada, salutes dignitaries in Indian government buildings, and acts as a beacon for participants of a meditation program in Denmark.
The Universal Flag’s message is simple: We Are All Connected. The symbol itself pictures a rainbow enclosed in a golden circle. The colour spectrum represents the chakra system common to us all and the golden circle represents our golden rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. The developer of the flag, Brian McClure, was spiritually and intuitively guided to create a symbol that would embrace everyone and everything to remind us of life’s interconnection and interdependence.
But why do we even need a symbol like this? According to McClure, “We have almost completely removed ourselves from the natural world and are destroying it rapidly. We allow people in other countries to suffer from preventable diseases and hardships that we would never tolerate for our own families. We are out of touch with our basic humanity, with each other, and with our connection to the living, breathing mystery to which we all belong.”
The website for the Universal Flag Peace Movement proposes that it is the belief in separation—the idea that we exist apart and unrelated to the world around us—that enables human violence and greed to continue. Proponents of the movement believe the flag symbol can help shift this perception to one that acknowledges relatedness instead. The idea is that the recognition of commonality in all life forms engenders compassion and respect toward others, making global health, prosperity, and peace possible.
McClure has seen this shift beginning to happen firsthand, where people are taking the time to care about those around them. When he arrived in Uganda a few years ago, he was “shell-shocked” by what he discovered. The average life expectancy was fifty years of age, there seemed to be no orphanages to care for the thousands of parentless street children, and the majority of all the country’s children would likely never attend school. Most people he met had no idea that there was a killer disease (AIDS) ravaging their population. They were also not aware of basic sanitation that could prevent dysentery and other diseases. They lacked proper nutrition, medical and dental care, food, clean drinking water, and proper shelter. As he says, “It is a tragedy of our times that anyone is living this way.”
But he also saw the enormous difference that one man, Kayiwa Fred, was making. Kayiwa Fred was a university student in Uganda who saw the street children as part of his own family. He started Beyond Youth Sports, a green youth movement to give the street children and those who do not have the ability to ever attend school, life lessons through soccer and through planting trees. This one man was changing hundreds of lives. Kayiwa Fred immediately understood the importance of the Universal Flag and has embraced and shared it through his organization. Recently, McClure and the Universal Flag Foundation (a 501c3 nonprofit) were able to outfit Beyond Youth Sports with 100 soccer uniforms bearing the Universal Flag symbol.
Indeed, we can see many examples of positive change happening on our planet whenever people see themselves as connected to the earth, other people, animals, and so forth. In the last year, the Universal Flag Peace Movement has launched an International Ambassador Program, bringing on board Ambassadors from countries all over the world who are dedicated to reminding their communities of our interdependence. Ambassadors have involved the flag symbol in their efforts to assist everyone from impoverished school children to homeless animals.
One of the most recent projects McClure and the Universal Flag Peace Movement have undertaken is the opening of Pathway Connections, a child-centred day care centre in Illinois. The driving intention behind the curriculum is to help the children build awareness of fundamental connections between themselves and the world around them. Throughout the year, students explore the ways in which they are connected with the world: with other people (family, friends, community, different cultures), the seasons and cycles of nature, animals, plants, natural resources, and the planet. Rather than focusing on academics and technology, activities at Pathways include digging in dirt and sand, gardening, splashing in water, and creating toys and games out of everyday boxes. The school also features quiet areas where children can sit on stumps, and observe and listen to nature without artificial external interference and stimulation. All meals are served family style in order to get back to the roots of communication, co-operation, sharing,
and fun. The pre-school teaches conservation, recycling, composting, growing vegetables, and above all modelling “respect for ourselves, others, and our environment.”
Now that technology is making it easier than ever to learn and connect with people all over the globe—and harder than ever to forget them—many of us are gaining new exposure to the challenges that people around the world face. We stand together as a species on the brink of serious changes to our climate, resources, and political structures. Perhaps these are some of the reasons why the Universal Flag Peace Movement has been garnering more and more support. Their Facebook page, with over 63,000 Likes, is becoming a place where people of many different belief systems and cultural backgrounds come together to speak what’s in their hearts. Guest bloggers are adding their voices on the Universal Flag’s community blog. And volunteers across the globe have signed on to help spread word of the flag in whatever way they can.
The Universal Flag Peace Movement is still a grassroots endeavour that depends on everyday people in order to reach enough people and make the kind of impact that McClure envisions for it. The flag needs to be shared—a lot. This kind of symbol needs to be seen, asked about, discussed. As one proponent of the flag says, “It is the people’s symbol. When we begin to understand how much power there is in seeing our connection, we’ll be able to change the world.”
Note: This article was first printed in Awareness® Magazine: Southern California’s Guide to Conscious Living (www.awarenessmag.com and 1-800-758-3223). It is reprinted here with their permission.
Lexi Soulios is a freelance writer, editor, and social media consultant living in Ashland, Oregon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Universal Flag Foundation is a 501c3 (non-profit) organization. For flags and information on becoming an Ambassador and on other ways to get involved, visit www.universalflag.com.