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 The truth behind The Peace Sign

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Bài gửiTiêu đề: The truth behind The Peace Sign   Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:48 am

50 years hadpassed. Another 100 will pass and there is always going to be someone
who is wondering what is that mark standing for.
It started life as the emblem of the British anti-nuclear movement but it has become an international sign for peace, and arguably the most
widely used protest symbol in the world. It has also been adapted, attacked and commercialised.Many people have speculated on just what the symbol represents; some religious zealots even claim it signifies Christ on the cross with arms broken, or a Teutonic rune representing
death and despair. But the truth is not so mysterious.

What does it mean?

One of the most widely known symbols in the world, in Britain it is
recognised as standing for nuclear disarmament —and in particular as
the logo of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). It
was designed from the naval code of semaphore, and the symbol
represents the code letters for ND which means Nuclear Disarmament.The
circle, representing the concept of total or complete, surrounds the N
and D signifying total or complete nuclear disarmament.

In the United States and much of the rest of the world it is known
more broadly as the peace symbol. It was designed in 1958 by Gerald
Holtom, a professional designer and artist and a graduate of the Royal
College of Arts. He showed his preliminary sketches to a small group of
people in the Peace News office in North London and to the Direct
Action Committee Against Nuclear War, one of several smaller
organisations that came together to set up CND.
The Direct Action Committee had already planned what was to be the
first major anti-nuclear march, from London to Aldermaston, where
British nuclear weapons were and still are manufactured. It was on that
march, over the 1958 Easter weekend that the symbol first appeared in
public. Five hundred cardboard lollipops on sticks were produced. Half
were black on white and half white on green. Just as the church’s
liturgical colours change over Easter, so the colours were to change,
“from Winter to Spring, from Death to Life.” Black and white would be
displayed on Good Friday and Saturday, green and white on Easter Sunday
and Monday.
The first badges were made by Eric Austin of Kensington CND using
white clay with the symbol painted black. Again there was a conscious
symbolism. They were distributed with a note explaining that in the
event of a nuclear war, these fired pottery badges would be among the
few human artifacts to survive the nuclear inferno. These early ceramic
badges can still be found and one, lent by CND, was included in the
Imperial War Museum’s 1999/2000 exhibition ”From the Bomb to the

Later, in a letter, Holtom also admitted that the symbol reflected his mood at the time.
“I was in despair,” he wrote. “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 formalized the drawing into a line and put a
circle around it.”

American journalist and playwright Herb Greer adds support for the
Holtom explanation. He reported, “I was actually there on and before
the first Aldermaston march for which it was created. I visited Holtom,
I saw the original sketches and discussed it with him.”
Ken Kolsbun, author of the book Peace: The Biography of a Symbol, reported
that Holtom expressed regret in not designing the peace symbol with the
joyful lifting of arms towards the sky. For most of Holtom’s life he
would draw only the upright peace symbol. Holtom requested that the
upright peace symbol be placed on his tombstone in Kent, England. If we
take a look on the picture of his tombstone, we’ll see that his wish
was unfortunately ignored.

While it appears reasonable that the modern day peace symbol comes from Gerald Holtom, this logic fails to address the fact that the symbol has been used for evil both in modern times and for thousands of years.

This same symbol was used by Hitler’s 3rd Panzer Division from 1941 to 1945. The image on the left is the regimental 3rd Panzer Division symbol. Soviet, Polish, and Hungarian citizens, having suffered from
the Nazi massacres, undoubtedly struggled with Holtom’s use of the symbol as a thoughtful way to communicate peace. The symbol can also be found on some of Hitler’s SS soldiers’ tombstones.
Another flaw in the Holtom creation story is the use of the symbol
as an anti-Christian symbol by the Saracens as early as 711 A.D.For the
Saracens, the image placed on their shields symbolized the breaking of
the Christian cross. For some the broken cross was equated to a satanic
symbol known as the raven’s craw or witch’s foot. While Holtom may not
have known the historical meaning of the peace symbol, Bertrand Russell
was a historian and member of the Fabian Society. A 1970 article in the American Opinion
magazine claimed Russell knew the historical occult meaning and
intentionally selected an “anti-Christian design long associated with
The fifth and final Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty,
Nero (born Lucius Domitius Ahenabarbus 37 – 68 AD), is remembered in
history for persecuting Christians. Nero’s rule was so wicked he even
had his mother executed. The First Roman-Jewish War (66 – 70 AD)
started during his reign and today the term “Nero Cross” is the symbol
of the “broken Jew” or “broken cross.” The most famous person believed
to be crucified by Nero was the Apostle Peter. To symbolize humility
and unworthiness in comparison to Christ, Peter requested that he be
crucified with his head toward the ground. As a result of Peter’s death
the upside down cross was used by early Christians as a positive symbol
for peace.

The symbol of the upside down cross changes its meaning when the
person on the upside down cross is no longer Peter but Jesus.
Anti-religious and satanic groups use the “Nero Cross” or inverted
“Latin Cross” to symbolize everything opposite of Christianity. Today
this is clearly illustrated by “black metal” or heavy metal music
lyrics and imagery that communicate anti-Christian sentiments. In
addition to musicians, film makers have reinforced the notion that the
upside down cross is an anti-Christian symbol as illustrated by The Omen in 1976 and The Exorcism of Emily Rose in 2005.
The symbol has also been used to communicate support for communism.
Bertrand Russell once said: “There is no hope in anything but the
Soviet way.” Governments–both those who supported communism and those
opposed to it–have perceived benefits in aligning the peace symbol with
communist ideology. For people like Bertrand Russell, the author of the
1927 essay Why I Am Not Christian, the symbol represented not only a pro-communism meaning but peace without God.

CND has never registered the sign as a trademark, arguing that “a
symbol of freedom, it is free for all”. It has now appeared on millions
of mugs, T-shirts, rings and nose-studs. Bizarrely, it has also made an
appearance on packets of Lucky Strike cigarettes.A decade ago, the sign
was chosen during a public vote to appear on a US commemorative postage
stamp saluting the 1960s.The symbol that helped define a generation of
baby boomers may not be as widely used today as in the past. It is in
danger of becoming to many people a retro fashion item, although the
Iraq war has seen it re-emerge with something like its original purpose.
“It is still the dominant peace sign,” argues Lawrence Wittner, an
expert on peace movements at the University at Albany in New York.”Part
of that is down to its simplicity. It can be used as a shorthand for
many causes because it can be reproduced really quickly – on walls on
floors, which is important, in say, repressive societies.”
And can its success be measured? Fifty years on, wars have continued
to be waged and the list of nuclear-armed states has steadily
lengthened.But the cup is half-full as well as half empty.
“There are many ways in which nuclear war has been prevented,” says
Mr Wittner. “The hawks say that the reason nuclear weapons have not
been used is because of the deterrent. But I believe popular pressure
has restrained powers from using them and helped curbed the arms
race.And the symbol of and inspiration for that popular pressure, says
Mr Wittner, is Mr Holtom’s graphic.

“Today because many people carry the symbol without
understanding the history, we miss an opportunity to address historical
uses and move forward to reclaim the symbol for good.When you see the
peace symbol, I encourage you to see the person displaying it as
communicating a message of love.If you display the peace symbol, my
recommendation is point the arms of the peace symbol toward the sky to
honor Holtom’s wish, address historical objections, and communicate
love of all people.”Dave Dionisi, Teach Peace Foundation
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