War vs. Peace

This image is about war and peace.

Stenciled on some wall on some street corner in some city, the art appears at first glance to be an anti-peace work (big red target!). But on closer inspection, it proves itself to be an image of peace advocacy.

An image full of symbolism, this stenciled street art is advocating peace, although it deceivingly gives the impression of advocating war.

You’d have to be blind to miss the heavy peace symbolism. There’s a dove and an olive branch, universal symbols of peace since practically the dawn of time. (But for real. I looked it up and use of the olive branch as a symbol of peace dates at least to the 5th century B.C., in the time of the ancient Greeks. Furthermore, the dove apparently appears in many early Roman catacombs in funerary inscriptions, sometimes accompanied by the words in pace, which is Latin for “in peace.” So there’s that evidence.)

But even while the peace symbolism is strong, it’s not what the eye notices first. The target, centered directly over the heart of the dove—and therefore the heart of peace—takes the first-impression prize hands-down. And if I did a word association exercise with the word “target,” here’s what comes to mind: bullets, shooting, guns, war, battle. (I was having a really hard time blocking “store” from that list). In any case, the target obviously represents war, and on first glance, it appears to be taking pretty good aim at peace.

But notice what’s under the target: a bulletproof vest. Protecting both the bird—and peace—from war, the vest is why this image can be labeled pro-peace. With such foolproof safety gear, peace is shielded from harm.

While war is taking pretty good aim, it’s just a bit off-target.

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