By: Bailey Foster
The pounding of feet, the sweat of perseverance, the beating of hearts that all seek one thing—harmony. For almost 25 years, the World Harmony Run has been a vibrant reminder that there is far more uniting us as human beings than dividing us. The run is not a race; it is a way for people to actively participate in the steady journey toward global unity and peace. Runners pass a torch from hand to hand, nation to nation in a gesture of international friendship and love.
“May each and every individual each day have a new dream of world harmony.”
These are the words of Sri Chinmoy, founder of the World Harmony Run. When Chinmoy started the torch relay in 1987, he sought to create an expression for harmony—one that would allow people to discover what they have inside of them. According to Salil Wilson, Executive Director of the World Harmony Run, Chinmoy understood that our society doesn’t always nurture our inner qualities, with the constant pressures and temptations to pursue wealth, beauty and power above all else. “Real satisfaction comes from an inner awakening,” says Wilson, “and the World Harmony Run gives that to people. It provides a deep personal experience that is outside of everyday life.” To both Chinmoy and Wilson, this is fundamental to creating peace.
When people can discover peace in their own lives, only then can it become a reality in the world.
As communicated by the organization’s website, the World Harmony Run is “one of the world’s largest and most enduring grassroots efforts for peace.” The relay has reached over 140 nations since its small beginnings. Participants come from thousands of communities around the world and represent all walks of life—young and old, elite athletes and casual runners, world leaders and average Joes. True to its message, the World Harmony Run unites people from a multitude of backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles. It is a vibrant reminder of the enduring power of love and harmony among nations and individuals.
Depending on the country and the infrastructure of the communities, the World Harmony Run can span thousands of miles or just a few. In Europe, participating runners travel through 41 countries over the course of eight months. And in the United States, the run spans 10,000 miles in the 48 continental states, followed by separate events in both Alaska and Hawaii.
The World Harmony Run does not seek to raise money or promote a particular political cause. It is simply a way to get people involved in building a better world. Entirely organized by a group of 300 volunteers, the run allows people to experience different cultures and ways of life as they travel to the various running sites across the globe. This upholds the message of international understanding and oneness as participants come to know and appreciate one another through a common cause.
Along the various routes, volunteers also carry the message of peace into a number of classrooms and community centers throughout the world. During these presentations, runners from all backgrounds and nationalities share their insights on world harmony. Additionally, Chinmoy’s vision for peace has been recognized by a number of well-respected individuals and world leaders, including Nelson Mandela, Mikhall Gorbachev and Mother Theresa.
So what about running lends itself to encouraging oneness in the world? One of the most basic and ancient forms of locomotion, running still involves an inherent effort to get from one place to another. “It requires perseverance and patience—characteristics also necessary for creating peace,” says Wilson. The words of respected cross country coach, Mark Will-Weber, echo Wilson’s idea: “Running is real and relatively simple… but it ain’t easy.”
Just as running conveys deep symbolism for encouraging harmony, the torch also reflects ideals essential to world peace: light, hope, truth and strength. As Wilson says, “The torch provides a real cause that people can hold in their hands, and it’s something that others have held too.” By passing the torch from one person to the next and one country to the next, runners can feel connected to something larger—something that impacts their world.
The World Harmony Run encourages the involvement of anyone who believes in their cause. To see how you can join a running team or help organize a ceremony or community event, visit the World Harmony Run website at www.worldharmonyrun.org, where you can get in touch with coordinators from 100 countries around the globe. You don’t have to run miles on end to be part of the event. Carry the torch a few steps or a few miles, or even join one of the thousands of welcoming ceremonies along the route. There’s a way for anyone to get involved with creating peace in the world! To get involved visit: www.worldharmonyrun.org/about/contact
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