is a tramway circulating once a year on Vienna's Ringstrasse, filled with music, art, literature, with a growing followership. Its foundation is the pacifist commitment of a small group of young people who realized that the open space of the tram being in permanent motion makes is the easiest way to make the peace-building comprehensible and accessible for many people regardless class, age and nationality.
In 2014, the group came up with the idea to establish a new form of pacifism – to make it understandable and consumable, so that its main goal – that is to abolish war as a human condition – is no longer condemned to be just a wish.
The Peace tram is our first small contribution to this. It bundles visual and performance art, music, theatre, lectures etc. to create and promote the idea of peace.
To understand peace work, we should first define what peace is.
Most people see peace under the terms of international law, and as Tolstoy's antithesis of "war and peace". History is often regarded as a succession of wars, interrupted by more or less short peace eras – but that falls short. War has a simple structure, because there are losers and (apparent) winners, victory and defeat.
Peace, on the other hand, is complex. It is difficult to grasp. It is characterized by a variety of characteristics that, in their entirety, sound somewhat utopian. And as peace is always results of communication and compromise, it is no 100%-thing. Neither on the level of international law, nor within ourselves.
We humans are an intelligent species. To achieve peace means to activate a potential that is in all of us. Peace is nothing else than a positive energy in us, which gives us joy and strength, charity and passion.
This may sound like esoteric nonsense. But it is the key to understand what we are suffering from and how to reduce this burden. Everybody has the potential to improve the world according to their own possibilities.
When the tramway which turned out to be the first Friedensbim first arrived on September 21st 2014 at 1.30 p.m., none of us knew what it would be like. Who will come? Will they like it? Will they understand?
But luckily we managed to refute the doubts. Everything went smoothly, and it was a big party as we say we had reached so many people and got this idea planted. We could create a carefree and accessible-for-all space that opens the door to a serious topic for a large public, preparing a ground for debate and action. We became aware of this fact only much later when journalists and supporters kept asking us what we are doing here and what this has to do with peace work.
That was, after all, a little of coincidence, too. Thanks to the confidence assistance of the Viennese Public Transport Agency Wiener Linien, we were allowed to transform a whole tramway into a playground and motivate the passengers to start their own commitment for peace.
None of the passengers thought getting on the train is already a pacifist action; just like any good party, the Peace Tram simply created an atmosphere of freedom and positivity, without leaving the important issues unsaid. They entered through the back of their minds.
Like this, the Peace Tram will keep on driving around the ring, and hopefully, there will be such trams in more cities, with increasing attention and number of visitors.
The Peace Bim thus became a peace movement in the truest sense of the word.