We first saw the Universal Flag in 2002, and since that time it has made its way into more than 150 countries. School children from Namibia to Chicago are greeted by the flag each morning. It welcomes visitors to an equestrian assisted learning center in Saskatchewan, Canada, salutes dignitaries in Indian government buildings, and acts as a beacon for participants of a meditation program in Denmark.
The Universal Flag’s message is simple: We Are All Connected. The symbol itself pictures a rainbow enclosed in a golden circle. The color spectrum represents the chakra system common to us all and the golden circle represents our golden rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. The developer of the flag, Brian McClure was spiritually and intuitively guided to create a symbol that would embrace everyone and everything to remind us of life’s interconnection and interdependence.
But why do we even need a symbol like this? According to McClure, “We have almost completely removed ourselves from the natural world and are destroying it rapidly. We allow people in other countries to suffer from preventable diseases and hardships that we would never tolerate for our own families. We are out of touch with our basic humanity, with each other, and with our connection to the living, breathing mystery that we all belong to.”
The website for the Universal Flag Peace Movement proposes that it is the belief in separation – an idea that we exist apart and unrelated to the world around us – that enables human violence and greed to continue. Proponents of the movement believe the flag symbol can help shift this perception to one that acknowledges relatedness instead. The idea is that the recognition of commonality in all life forms engenders compassion and respect towards others, making global health, prosperity and peace possible.
McClure has seen this shift beginning to happen firsthand where people are taking the time to care about those around them. When he arrived in Uganda a few years ago he was ‘shell-shocked’ by what he discovered. The average life expectancy was 50 years of age, there seemed to be no orphanages to care for the thousands of parentless street children, and the majority of all the country’s children would likely never attend school. Most people he met had no idea that there was a killer disease (AIDS) ravaging their population. They were also not aware of basic sanitation that could prevent dysentery and other diseases. They lacked proper nutrition, medical and dental care, food, clean drinking water, and proper shelter. As he says, “It is a tragedy of our times that anyone is living this way.”
But he also saw the enormous difference that one man, Kayiwa Fred, was making. Kayiwa Fred was a University student in Uganda who saw the street children as part of his own family. He started Beyond Youth Sports, a green youth movement to give the street children and those who do not have the ability to ever attend school, life lessons through soccer and through planting trees. This one man was changing hundreds of lives. Kayiwa Fred immediately understood the importance of the Universal Flag and has embraced and shared it through his organization. Recently, McClure and the Universal Flag Foundation (a 501C3 nonprofit) were able to outfit Beyond Youth Sports with 100 soccer uniforms bearing the Universal Flag symbol.
One of the most recent projects McClure and the Universal Flag Peace Movement have undertaken is the opening of Pathway Connections, a child-centered day care center in Illinois, USA. The driving intention behind the curriculum is to help the children build awareness of fundamental connections between themselves and the world around them. Throughout the year, students explore the ways in which they are connected with the world: with other people (family, friends, community, different cultures), the seasons and cycles of nature, animals, plants, natural resources, and the planet.
Now that technology is making it easier than ever to learn and connect with people all over the globe – and harder than ever to forget them, many of us are gaining new exposure to the challenges that people around the world face. We stand together as a species on the brink of serious changes to our climate, resources, and political structures. Perhaps these are some of the reasons why the Universal Flag Peace Movement has been garnering more and more support. Their Facebook page, with over 55,000 Likes, is becoming a place where people of many different belief systems and cultural backgrounds come together to speak what’s in their hearts. Guest bloggers are adding their voices on the Universal Flag’s community blog. And volunteers across the globe have signed on to help spread word of the flag in whatever way they can.
The Universal Flag Peace Movement is still a grassroots endeavor that depends on everyday people in order to reach out and make the kind of impact that such a movement could make. The flag needs to be shared – a lot. It’s the kind of symbol that needs to be seen, asked about, discussed. As one proponent of the flag says, “It is the people’s symbol. When we begin to understand how much power there is in seeing our connection, we’ll be able to change the world.”