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November 10, 2005

Peace Dome Presentation Spans 50 Years of Humanity’s Potential

The Invitation spans the development of peace consciousness around the world from Sweden to Tibet, the Congo to Alabama. The hour and fifteen minute presentation unites eight Nobel Peace Prize winners, encompassing 50 years.

“It is like being in the presence of some of the greatest minds in the modern world,” says Barbara Condron, The Invitation’s creator and director. “Hearing Albert Schweitzer’s words that ‘we are becoming inhuman to the extent that we become supermen’ are heard in tandem with Dr. Martin Luther King’s admonition that ‘man has learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but not learned the simple art of living together as brothers’ pricks the conscience and opens the mind.”

Starting in 1954 with medical humanitarian and musical genius Albert Schweitzer, The Invitation highlights the evolution of man’s search to live in a peaceful world. King and scientist Linus Pauling from the United States in the 1960’s, Betty Williams from Northern Ireland and Mother Teresa from India in the 1970’s, Alva Myrdal from Sweden and his Holiness the Dalai Lama from Tibet in the 1990’s, and 2003’s honoree Shidin Ebadi from Iran come to life before your eyes. Their thoughts of peace stretch the limits of the imagination, often challenging the way we live.

“When Mother Teresa says she was shocked to see so many young children given to drugs in the West, you believe her,” Condron says. “When she says she wanted to know why, you agree with her. When she tells you it is because there is no one in the family to receive them, you come face to face with how you conduct your own life.”

The Invitation is presented only at the Peace Dome on the campus of the College of Metaphysics in Windyville, Missouri near Bennett Springs. The dome was dedicated in October 2003 as a universal site for peace. On that day people from all seven continents participated in a synchronized reading of the Universal Peace Covenant, the document that serves as part of the script.

The presentation is comprised of excerpts from the acceptance speeches made by Nobel Peace Prize laureates. Condron sought and received permission from the Nobel Foundation in Sweden to quote the laureates’ speeches and from the Board of Governors of the School of Metaphysics to use the Universal Peace Covenant, penned in 1996-7 by two dozen teachers. The effect is both timeless and contemporary. This is not passive peace. Nor is it the polarizing peace activism of recent years.

The Invitation seeks to define the ideas and the practices that produce peace. It mixes science with philosophy in a way that encourages personal and social change. “When Linus Pauling – the sole recipient to date of Nobel prizes in two categories (chemistry and peace) – says that we are privileged to live in this extraordinary age, we realize the great future of peace, justice, morality and human well-being that he sees can become a reality when we choose to make it so,” Condron says.

Bringing to life these men and women from around the world has changed the lives of those who portray them. Those changes are documented by Condron in the book Peacemaking: 9 Lessons for Changing Yourself, your Relationships, and your World.

Throughout history, man has responded to aggression with more aggression. In the 1960’s King followed in the footsteps of India’s Mohandas K. Gandhi to use nonviolence to respond to aggression with love. In his Nobel prize acceptance speech King said, “Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force.”

“Dr. King was a powerful speaker,” says computer expert John Harrison from Des Moines who portrays King. “From portraying him in The Invitation, I gained the confidence to bring out and use more of my own personal power. I felt his urgency to do his part to heal racial inequities because he knew his time was so short. Our time on this planet is short, so like Dr. King, I am striving to make the most of it while I am here.”

Betty Williams, the 1976 winner, was an office worker in Northern Ireland at the time she shared the prize for founding Peace People. She acknowledges that the world is divided ideologically, theologically, yet she says, “the whole human family can be united by compassion.” Like King she realizes that “compassion is more important than intellect in calling forth the love that the work of peace needs.”

“Before playing Betty Williams I thought peace was a nice idea,” Springfield office worker Laurie Biswell says of the 1976 prize winner. “From quoting Betty’s words in conjunction with the Universal Peace Covenant I have a better understanding of how to cause peace to become a reality. Now I believe that I can make a difference just as these Nobel laureates have.”

Each person who witnesses The Invitation leaves their mark in the first floor of the Peace Dome. There an eight foot diameter design by Chicago artist Jay McCormick is manifesting one glass tile at a time. Following each performance guests are invited to place a tile in the Peace Dome.

The nine by eighteen foot relief map of the world on the east side of the Peace Dome is called the Healing Wall. Eventually it will be composed of native stones from all over the world.

When asked if the Peace Dome and the presentation are political statements, Condron quotes one of the Dalai Lama’s speeches in response. “Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted upon a prisoner of conscience. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.”

“The Dalai Lama, who lost his country and his culture when the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1959, teaches that responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or those appointed or elected to do a particular job,” Condron says. “It lies with each one of us individually. Those who experience The Invitation have a heightened awareness of what all of the laureates know – that peace starts with each one of us.”

The final performance of The Invitation this year will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, November 20th in the Peace Dome. An audio recording of the presentation is available now and a film is in production.

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1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Betty Williams (below) is brought to life in the Peace Dome on the campus of the College of Metaphysics by Laurie Biswell. Dr. Laurel Clark portrays 2003 recipient Shidin Abadi from Iran. The final performance of THE INVITATION for this year will be this Sunday at 1 p.m.

The cast of The Invitation forms as receiving line outside the Peace Dome following each presentation. They are (left to right) Laurie Biswell as Betty Williams, John Harrison as Martin Luther King, Jr., Paul Madar as H.H. the Dalai Lama, John Crainshaw as Linus Pauling, Dr. Laurel Clark as Shidin Abadi, Dr. Sheila Benjamin as Mother Teresa, Tad Messenger as Albert Schweitzer, and Dr. Pam Blosser as Alva Myrdal.

©2005 SOM

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