Ringing in the New Year for about 200 Kansas Citians started as early as 6 a.m. Tuesday at the Rime Buddhist Center.
That’s where people celebrated the 28th Annual World Peace Meditation. People started arriving as early as 5 a.m. at the Buddhist Center on the West Side of Kansas City.
The interfaith gathering was early to coincide with the New Year being observed at the international date line on the other side of the planet. People from 14 different faiths, ranging from Buddhism and Christianity to Sufism and Vedanta defined peace according to their worship traditions.
Robert K. “Bob” Hentzen, co-founder of Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, received the Bodhisattva Award posthumously. He died in October at age 77 in Guatemala. The organization he founded in 1981 supports 308,000 families in 21 nations.
Former Kansas City Mayor Charles B. Wheeler and former City Councilman Alvin Brooks greeted the crowd. Brooks questioned how the city can tolerate having about 100 homicides a year. “We build prisons and we close schools,” he said.
He then asked the audience, “Is that the right thing to do?”
Keynote speaker former Jackson County Circuit Judge Jon Gray said that people have to be at peace with themselves and at peace with their God before they can show peace to others. He quoted Pope Paul, saying if people want peace they have to work for justice.
Gray said we share the same planet and destiny. “We need each other,” he said.
Such words have to take hold in Afghanistan as the U.S. prepares to end fighting there after a 13-year war and worldwide as 2014 begins Wednesday and humanity starts a new year to try to achieve a lasting peace. We can always hope.