|Once upon a time the
earth was even more beautiful than it is today. The water was pure and
deep, reflecting within itself the sunlight which gave life to all the
creatures beneath the waves.
The earth was green
with many kinds of trees and plants. These gave food and shelter to the
birds, the animals, and to all mankind. At night the air was so clear that
the starlight gave a glow almost as bright as the moon.
The people of the earth
lived close to nature. They understood it and honored it and never took
more than what they needed from it. The people lived in peace so they prospered
and began to build many nations all around the world according to nature's
But one day, a terrible
thing happened. A strange spirit of greed entered the hearts of mankind.
People began to be jealous of one another, and they were not satisfied
with all the good things they already had. The nations wanted more and
more of everything: more land, more water, more resources. They squeezed
precious minerals from the earth to build terrible weapons to defend their
nations from other greedier nations. They killed one another. They polluted
the air and the water with poisons. Nature began to die. This is called
war. War is ugly. It destroys love and hope and peace.
Then one day a magical
thing occurred. The birds of the air, the animals of the land, and the
creatures beneath the waters came to an agreement: if they were to survive,
something would have to be done to stop these wars. Only through peace
could their world survive.
"We cannot speak the
human language," they declared, "and mankind can no longer understand ours.
We must find among us a symbol of peace so brilliant that all who see it
will stop and remember that peace and sharing is beautiful."
"I am what you need,"
said a golden sunflower. "I am tall and bright. My leaves are food for
the animals, my yellow petals can turn plain cloth to gold, my seeds are
many and are used for food by all living beings. Yet, the seeds I drop
upon the ground can take root and I will grow again and again. I can be
your symbol of peace."
All nature rejoiced,
and it was decided that the birds would each take one sunflower seed and
that they would fly over every nation and plant the seed in the earth as
a gift. The seeds took root and grew, and the sunflowers multiplied.
Wherever the sunflowers
grew, there seemed to be a special golden glow in the air. The people could
not ignore such a magical sight.
Soon they began to
understand the message of the sunflowers so they decided to destroy all
of their terrible weapons and to put an end to the greed and to the fear
of war. They chose the sunflower as a symbol of peace and new life for
all the world to recognize and understand.
A ceremony was celebrated
by planting a whole field of sunflowers. Artists painted pictures of the
sunflowers, writers wrote about them, and the people of the world were
asked to plant more sunflowers seeds as a symbol of remembrance.
All nature rejoiced
once more as the golden sunflowers stood tall with their faces turned eastward
to the rising sun, then following the sun until it sets in the west.
They gave their goodness
to the world so that everyone who sees a sunflower will know that the golden
light of peace is beautiful.