Prayers for peace were shared in many faiths early New Year’s Eve, and then an award was presented to Kansas City’s top peacekeeper, police Chief Darryl Forté at the Rime Buddhist Center.
The event was the 29th Annual World Peace Meditation. It started at 6 a.m. Wednesday to coincide with noon Greenwich Mean Time so Kansas City area residents who braved the predawn, single-digit temperature could join others worldwide in simultaneous prayer and meditation for world peace.
Forté, who became the city’s first black police chief in October 2011, received the Bodhisattva Award. Lama Chuck Stanford with the Buddhist center at 700 W. Pennway St., said Bodhisattva represents the highest Tibetan Buddhist ideal of a person who works for the benefit of others.
I have attended these gatherings just about every year since 2002. But this one after a year of protests and unrest was particularly meaningful. Some communities such as Ferguson, Mo., erupted in violence after the Aug. 9 police shooting of 18-year-old African American Michael Brown. That stemmed from the growing polarization between the police and the community.
“We’re so lucky we don’t have that here,” Stanford said.
Forté, who received a standing ovation from about 250 people at the World Peace Meditation event, said he is following his and his family’s tradition of being in service to others and giving voice to people who otherwise would be powerless.
“As president of the Board of Police Commissioners, we ought to be proud of Chief Darryl Forte,” said Alvin L. Brooks, who received the Bodhisattva Award in 2002. “I know you’ve got the greatest chief of police in this metroplex.”
Stanford said the award went to Forté because of his promoting cultural diversity, building trust, reducing violent crime, aiding victims and using his passion and wisdom to achieve those and other goals.
In a speech about peace during the event, the Rev. Wallace Hartsfield II with the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, said, “From my experience, peace is a byproduct of freedom,” which includes the right to live with dignity with free access to opportunities, he said. Respect has to be part of the equation.
“To achieve true peace there must be respect for one another,” Hartsfield said.