Why Bitter Winter supports the Global Prayer for Love and Peace and the One Minute Silence initiatives.
by Massimo Introvigne
On October 6, U.S. President Joe Biden said that the world is “closer to Armageddon” than it has ever been since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, because of irresponsible talks about the possible use of nuclear weapons. For Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the word “Armageddon” refers to a final battle ending the world as we know it. Literally, “Armageddon” means “Mount Megiddo,” which is not a mountain but a human-made hill in Northern Israel, strategically situated and where battles were fought between Egyptians and Jews in ancient times and between the British and the Turks during World War I.
Today, “Mount Megiddo” is an intersection between two highways called Megiddo Junction. I went there years ago and, quite symbolically, at the center of Megiddo Junction, or Armageddon, was a McDonald’s diner (I checked with Google Earth and it is still there). I joked with some friends that the warriors gathered for the battle of Armageddon will be at least able to order their last Big Mac. But in fact, the presence of something as trivial as a McDonald’s right where Armageddon is may also indicate the world’s wish that there will be no Apocalypse and everything will continue as normal.
In Western literature and popular culture, “Armageddon” is synonym of the end of the world through wars, epidemics, and famines. It is not coincidental that the President of the United States raises the specter of Armageddon when we are barely exiting from a planetary epidemic, a war is continuing in Ukraine, and famine is coming in several countries as the rising price of electricity and gas is making a normal economic life impossible.
Confronted with these apocalyptic perspectives, many live in fear. Indeed, fear is a normal response, as we all have the impression that tragedy is coming and there is nothing we can do. However, this is not entirely true. Believers of all religions and even unbelievers who affirm the primacy of morality and conscience know that there is always something to do. We can pray and testify that we do not passively accept Armageddon. “Praying” does not necessarily refer to a specific religious tradition. Indeed, even atheists can meditate and “pray,” asking that consciences will be awakened, so that we can all repent from mistakes whose global weight is putting the very existence of the planet at risk, and promise that we will amend our ways and turn to conscience as our true moral compass.
Tai Ji Men Qigong Academy and the Federation of World Peace and Love (FOWPAL) are inviting the world to a Global Prayer of Love and Peace, where all are asked to pray and offer their testimonies for global peace and security on October 16 according to their traditions and feelings (including the non-believers) and to a One Minute Silence between 2:30 and 2:31 p.m. (of their respective time zones) of the same October 16. Those who would like to contribute a short thought or a 30-second to one minute video to the events that will be organized can send mails and videos to FOWPAL at email@example.com.
Tai Ji Men, whose Shifu (Grand Master), Dr. Hong Tao-Tze, is also the President of FOWPAL is a menpai (similar to a school) of qigong, martial arts, and self-cultivation rooted in the Taoist tradition but open to dizi (disciples) of all faiths. It promotes the Global Prayer of Love and Peace and the One Minute Silence in partnership with many organizations, including Bitter Winter, which support and sponsor it precisely because it is a nonsectarian testimony and act of love.
Will it help? A skeptical may object that prayer and silence do not stop the weapons. However, a German saying tells us that when around us it is dark there are two things we can do, either cursing the darkness or lighting a match. Cursing the darkness is not very useful. Lighting a single match does not dispel the darkness either. But if thousands of men and women light their matches, in the end the darkness will disappear and the fear of the darkness will also dissolve. Through the Global Prayer of Love and Peace and the One Minute Silence we will proclaim that we are not afraid of the darkness—if anything, it is the darkness that should be afraid of us.