Dona Nobis Pacem
How well do you know your friends in the Blogosphere, or on Facebook? They’re your friends, right? You share your everyday lives with them –the ups, the downs, photos of your favourite places to be, photos of your pets, your family. You trust these people –people with false names and pseudonyms – trust them with all the details of your private life.
You are constantly told there are bad people out there, who are not who they seem to be, so you should be careful. Sometimes you hear on the news how somebody who’d posed as a teenager was actually an older man, who preyed on the innocence and friendliness of younger girls, and it shocks you for a moment. But of course it doesn’t refer to your online friends. They have proved their trustworthiness by sharing their equally private lives with you. So that is ok.
Sometimes the doubts remain. Is that person really who they say they are? Is this person’s life real or have they made it up?
We have to be careful. It’s there, in the background. Distrust. Wariness.
Or is it?
Sometimes life surprises you on the positive side. Sometimes you feel unexpectedly moved by something, so it changes your life. This happened to me four years ago. Back in November 2006, I met one of those warm, bubbly, good-humoured people who inspire those around to take part in something big by doing something small.
Of course, she wasn’t ‘real’. All my real life friends told me this. People you meet on the Internet aren’t ‘solid’. They’re not actually in your life, they are simply a name, who comes to your blog and leaves a message about your post, then you go back to theirs and leave a message about their post. When you turn off your computer, they are gone. They are like interacting, fictional characters of a book – there when you need them, but who you can walk away from any time you choose. They don’t mean anything. Not really.
But they do. You care about what they say. They boost you up when you are down. They say positive things about you, things you rarely hear in your everyday life. They support you when you are trying to do difficult things, or reach a goal. They are the feel-good factor. And you are that feel-good factor for them.
I believe this is most people’s experience of the blogging world. So rarely is someone negative, or rude or dismissive. Most immerse themselves in this virtual world because it makes them feel good, and in turn, they like to make others feel good. People get a sense of self-worth from these friendships.
Occasionally, one of these people reveal themselves to be not like any other. Sometimes one of these people shows an extraordinariness that inspires the surrounding, or ‘linked’, people to aspire to more than they already are.
Everybody dreams of making a difference, don’t they. Most hope that something they do will be remembered after they are gone, and maybe be spoken about with affection by their children or grandchildren. Many reach their deathbeds, look back and worry they haven’t done enough. They fear they will be forgotten, that their lives were worthless.
What I remember most about this blogger – the one that changed my life –was not merely that she wanted to change the world, but she wanted everyone in the world to join her in changing it.
She had a dream.
And she believed, absolutely believed, that, though a solo voice was beautiful and significant, many voices joined in harmony would form a powerful chorus singing through the Blogosphere. Their combined voices would be heard in every country of the world, and it would make a difference. Not surprisingly, she called her movement ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’, echoing a beautiful cantata written by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1936, which means ‘Grant Us Peace’.
The dream was peace. The blogger was Mimi Lennox.
Mimi envisaged one day, just one day, where every blogger would post a blue, personally signed, ‘Peaceglobe’ on a blog post, titled ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’. She dreamed that, as one jumped from blog to blog, every voice would be the same, every blogger asking for peace in their own individual way. For, if everyone could do it for one, single day, why couldn’t we do it every day?
My experience of blogging, at that point had merely been an extension of my own little life. I wrote about what I knew; took pictures and shared them; wrote poems hoping for feedback; described my day; ‘chatted’ to other bloggers in the comment section at the end of each post. Nothing extraordinary there.
But ‘extra ordinary’ began to happen.
Not that I noticed it at first: One couldn’t make the template of his blog work, another came to the rescue. One had no idea how to put a Peaceglobe in the sidebar, another wrote a step-by-step guide for anyone to follow. One had no idea how to make a Peaceglobe, another made one for him. One had difficulty putting a picture on a blog, or needed advice. A blogger always stepped forward to lend a hand.
Imaginary characters helping each other do meaningful things in the real world? What was this, fiction infringing on reality? But bloggers were not real. My friends, family told me this. The media told me this. One should be wary. One should not trust.
Mimi set a date for November 7th. As the day drew closer, John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ begun to hum to the Blogosphere. The Blogosphere stirred in response. Bloggers around Mimi embraced her enticing dream and shared the idea with their friends who in turn spread the word to all their friends. It was contagious. Turns out, a lot of folks wanted peace.
Bloggers are real people. They want peace, and they want it in so many forms, whether it should be a moment’s silence to hear a butterfly land, or the end to all war. Some believe peace should begin with how you treat your fellow beings. Others believe it should be the withdrawing of all troops.
But a lot of folks want peace.
That year, on November 7th, the Peaceglobes went up under the title of Dona Nobis Pacem. There were poems, stories, pictures, photos. There were pleas, dreams and specially designed pieces of art. The creativity was as varied as the bloggers, from doctors and soldiers to cats and dogs (yes really! There is a Catosphere and Dogosphere, where pets blog instead of their owners.) to mums, artists…you name it, there was a representative there!
A lot of people had previously felt themselves to be small and ineffectual, unable to obtain their dream on their own. Mimi brought together the choir, gave them their voice, empowered them. And when she raised expectations, the voices swelled in crescendo. Reading through post after post of each others’ dreams and desires of peace united those that took part.
It could have ended there. It was already an achievement. But twice a year the choir becomes larger. Bloggers’ voices now emanate from more than a hundred different states and countries. Thousands of Peaceglobes fill the archive galleries, and more are flying in to fill the gallery for the imminent Dona Nobis Pacem for November 4th. Every day, Mimi’s helpers make Peaceglobes for folks they don’t know, scout the sidebars for those peace badges quietly promoting a blogger’s wish for peace to be expanded. They do it for the love of an idea, and for the love of Mimi.
Peaceglobes have spread from blogs to Facebook to Twitter…and, no matter where they are, I see folks helping each other, supporting each other, working as part of a voluntary, global organisation. Unlike the banks, the only big bonuses they take, are the satisfaction of helping others and making the Blogosphere sing.
I have my Peaceglobe ready. I don’t yet know what I will say, but I know these bloggers, Facebook and Twitter users are real. And they aren’t all bad.
[-Ed. I intended to write a post for Dona Nobis Pacem,
but feel I already said what I wanted to say here, so...
this is now designated my peace post! :-) ]
Blogblast for Peace Links:
- Mimi Writes
- Where to find your Peaceglobe templates
- Previous countries participating in blogblast for Peace
- The Peaceglobe Gallery
- Facebook page
- Facebook Peaceglobe albums
- Facebook Causes
- Mimi Lennox’s dream, the idea for Dona Nobis Pacem (also known as ‘Blogblast for Peace’) Wednesday, October 11th 2006
I have these two pictures on my wall to remind me...you are never to small to try:
will change the face of the World"
~on a stone outside Oxfam Headquarters
you've never been to bed with a mosquito"
~Anita Roddick, Founder of the Body Shop
[Ed. Since it is such a popular event, nobody is going to stop you if you 'haven't got round to posting your Peaceglobe. It is never too late for Peace! Keep sending those globes to Mimi! :-) ]