Peaceful Tomorrows members Antonio Aversano, Terry Greene, and her son, Ari, visited the Groton Middle School in Groton, MA on April 7th, 2008. They were invited by students of the Bookmakers and Dreamers Club who are taking on a monumental project. The students are over four years into the process of creating the world’s largest book. As bookmakers they are aiming for the creation of a book 12 feet tall, 10 feet wide and weighing more than 600 pounds, to beat the current Guinness “largest book” world record. As dreamers, they have courageously dedicated the topic of this book to be World Peace.
When first hearing about this project Terry Greene admitted she was a little skeptical about it. “I mean, getting peace into the Guinness Book of World Records?” However, upon further investigation and especially through her visit with this hard working group, it was obviously a very sincere undertaking, and the teacher and students were clearly astounding.
During the visit between Peaceful Tomorrows members and the Bookmakers and Dreamers Club, a Boston Globe newspaper reporter who was in attendance began grilling one student named Sam, aged 10 years old, asking Sam why he thought his brother, who had recently died as a soldier in Afghanistan, died in vain. “Didn’t your brother help prevent the types of tragedies these families [pointing to us] faced on 9/11 from happening again?” The young man spoke softly, but without wavering said “I just think that it doesn’t make any sense to kill anybody, or get killed, or to kill yourself.” Sam’s brother Zach was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb after returning to the vehicle to rescue others. He had been injured and burned just weeks before but was not allowed to come home and had to return to duty. The class is dedicating an entire page to Zach in the Big Book.
While everyone was somber, a feeling of peace and hope was also present and the youths clearly held such promise. They are dedicated to reading each letter sent and are earnestly trying to learn lessons from the letters about how to work most effectively towards a peaceful future.
Antonio really connected with the students, speaking about how he felt when his father died on 9/11 – how he knew if we went to war out of hatred and retaliation for 9/11, that the bombs would fall on other innocent civilians and there would be another son just like him who would lose his Dad too.
One of the questions asked by the students to all people contributing letters to the book is “Will there ever be world peace?” During the meeting, Antonio’s response was an acknowledgment to the students who were clearly working peacefully together on this project and learning so much from it. “This is what World Peace looks like!”, he shared with them. He spoke that he believes World Peace is not a destination we arrive at someday, but a seed we plant and grow each day of our lives and in each relationship we have.
Terry’s son, Ari, also spoke, saying he knew that all people have some good in them, and at the same time we all bear responsibility for bad things our country does that hurt others.
The visit ended with some inspired sharing from the students, who all spoke very passionately about what peace means to them and what they have learned from participating in this project. Some of them have been a part of it for four years.
Antonio was invited to close the meeting by offering some music to the students, and he played a peace blessing for them on the Aboriginal Didgeridoo. As a symbol of peace, he then gave two didgeridoo’s to the students to keep, and they immediately got to work sharing them and learning to play.
For anyone interested in writing a letter, it’s not too late. The Bookmakers and Dreamers still need several hundred more letters to reach their goal and would love to hear from you! In addition, they need donations to create the book and take it on tour (The University of Massachusetts is creating a giant page turner, paper has been donated by a local press, and several museums across the country are interested in exhibiting the work).
You can contact the teacher, Betsy Sawyer at firstname.lastname@example.org and also find out more about their project by visiting www.PagesForPeace.org.
A Boston Globe story on the book can be viewed here.