To seek peace

Bremen, Germany
Joining Rembertistrasse and Parkallee is a tunnel—a tunnel for cars, bicycles and pedestrians; but for the trains above, it is a bridge. (Perhaps this dual nature of a single structure—being both tunnel and bridge is significant; cross-paths which don’t actually cross, yet do without intruding on each other.) This tunnel which was, in every way, a very ordinary, functional tunnel, has been transformed by mosaic artist and graphic designer Regina Heygster into the Friedenstunnel—the peace tunnel.

At the front entrance to the left is a mosaic of an oak tree and on the right a palm tree, both symbolising peace, the oak in North America and the palm in the Middle East.

Arching over the road on the back entrance to the tunnel is the aphorism.

Verstehen ist das Tor zur Verständigung. Verständigung ist das Tor zum Verstehen.
Understanding is the gate to communication. Communication is the gate to understanding.

Entering, down the length of the tunnel on both sides, tiled in mosaic in 121 languages the word “peace” runs in a continuous band above the 82 panels.

On the 82 panels there are 104 quotations from 71 “speakers” for peace; they span from the ancient world to the present. The texts are from many cultures, and are taken from both religious and secular sources; which reflects how long-term and widespread the desire for peace has been!
Religious leaders, poets and philosophers try to pin down the path to peace, holy texts call us to seek an open-minded and caring stance, politicians and statesmen proclaim their commitment to peace while others cry out and give their lives for peace. Behind these wishes and instructions is the painful knowledge of the destructive impact of conflict and war personally within families, locally within communities and internationally between nations.
To read the words of these 71 speakers one after another, is a healing balm. To read these words is to be infused with a warmth and deep desire for understanding, relationship and love. There is idealism, there is vision—a hoping for and believing in a greater more expansive human being. With the desire so persistent and long-lasting the question arises; why is peace so hard to achieve? We stumble over our unhappiness, our resentment, our desperate need to be listened to and heard. Look at our stubborn refusal to let go of our righteousness, our anger, our hate; we don’t want to let the wounds perpetrated against us heal; look at our lack of forgiveness, our lack of humility and our desire for revenge.
The peace tunnel is about reaching out across personal, cultural, geographical and religious boundaries to seek what connects and binds rather than what divides and splinters. It is about creating a bridge over the tunnel, to shine a light into dark places full of misunderstanding and intolerance.

Don’t we all want to live in peace?

What does it mean to seek peace? To walk away from violence. To step back from those feelings of righteousness and intolerance. To be humble. To accept one’s own imperfect humanity. To show compassion. To connect with other human beings and discover the ‘common’ we all share. We know the combined strengths of love and understanding are stronger than the dividing power of and the wish for revenge and retaliation. Only our commitment to peace will make us peaceful and deeply joyful.

To read the quotations in German and English please download the files in panel order or according to speaker.