Bartholomew spreads peace

Theresa Carter and Theresa Carter

he idea of world peace may seem as real or concrete as a dream or fantasy to some people — meaning the thought is nice, but the possibility of it ever coming to pass is just too unrealistic or far-fetched to actually believe in.

This is not the case, however, for David Bartholomew — originator of the non-profit organization One World Flag — who has for seven years dedicated his life to spreading messages of peace, respect and love across the world.

Formerly a Houston police officer, Bartholomew decided to dedicate his life to this organization based on an image that appeared to him in a dream and a motto in which he firmly believes:

“Like the familiar yin-yang symbol, the one world flag was meant to encompass all, with everything in balance. The flag calls us to focus on the fact that we have more in common as a world, than we have differences between nations,” Bartholomew said.

The One World Flag (OWF), a project of SEE (Social and Environmental Entrepreneaurs), started in 1995 as an international symbol of five key elements that Bartholomew believes are essential to world peace– tolerance, diversity, self-esteem, uniqueness and cooperation.

“When it first began, students on their way home from school were able to identify “safe” houses in the neighborhood by the (OWF) symbol being placed in front or side windows of its supporters’ homes,” Bartholomew said. “But thanks to a growing number of individuals, groups, educational and spiritual leaders, OWF has had a wide-sweeping [or international] inspirational effect.”

For instance, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa has hanging in his church the flags of several countries including his own, and what he claims to be the “centerpiece” of these flags, inevitably is the One World Flag. In an interview with Bartholomew, he said, “It is hard for me to accept war. I tell my congregation…if they pray and keep their hearts open to the Creator, they will hear a nation crying out, Peace! Peace! Peace!”

OWF’s missions statement– “to bypass the limiting aspects of political, religious, and economic beliefs and support the empowerment of the individual”– has one common goal.

“I find it imperative that the nation improve its ability to communicate, create, and expand comfort zones, then change, and evolve from them,” Bartholomew said. “There is no greater time than now for tearing down walls, opening hearts and thinking bigger.”

OWF is doing its part to get the public involved in the idea of peace.

“People are getting organized to a degree I have never seen in my lifetime,” said Henry Schwarz, director of the Program on Peace and Justice, located at Georgetown University. “It [OWF] does seem to have a far-reaching impact.”

Bethany Yarrow, resident of Brooklyn, New York and participant in the peace rally in Manhattan, said this about the event: “The rally on 3rd avenue made it clear that we are no longer living in a world or a country at peace. For the first time in my life I am afraid, not just of war, but of my own government. The war against Iraq will not just be a war over there, it will be a war here too, and it will destroy the things that we hold so dear, especially this thing called liberty. I can only hope that One World Flag becomes more widely known so that principles like individuality and tolerance [of the differences between others and nations] become honored amongst all people.”

Participating in a peace rally, much less hearing about one, may be something that seems somewhat impractical, or far from happening to most people.

Although excited about the effects the past peace rally has had on promoting world peace, Bartholomew says, “The fight for peace, love, and respect for the individual is not only global, but it is also personal. It affects not only those of us who have stood in the cold, but those of us who pray in our homes…those of us who embrace all the possibilities and benefits of a world view.”