The other day while I was combing my hair, looking in the mirror, I saw the cross I wear on a chain around my neck. For a moment I flashed back (sans drugs, honest) to a time when I wore the peace symbol in the same way. You know, the circle girding a straight line with two shorter lines projecting off at a slight angle. And it struck me that the peace symbol was only a step on the road to peace, the peace that passeth all understanding, and it was the cross that was the true peace symbol.
The peace symbol actually began life as a protest symbol for the nuclear disarmament movement. (The lines are semaphore signals for N and D.) For a while the designer, Gerald Holtom, had considered using the cross in the design, but the priests he asked were reluctant to endorse the cross as part of a nuclear protest. He then moved the crossbar down and bent it in the middle and put it in the circle that became the standard of the protest, and quickly found its way into being the symbol of the whole peace movement.
If you’d like to revisit your own “hippie” days, you can visit this website for more info on the history of the movement. But let me copy a snippet of Mr. Holtom’s own explanation of the design:
“I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an
individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards
in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the
drawing into a line and put a circle round it.”
Isn’t despair precisely the emotion we can overcome by looking to the One who outstretched his palms to be crucified? This despair is what overtakes those who seek the answers to the world’s problems in the world and in themselves. It’s so easy to give way to despair, to throw our arms downward, when, in lifting them up, lifting up our hearts to our Lord Jesus Christ we can find the means not only to cope, but to hope.