Christmas Wishes Wanted

In Hiroshima Peace Park, built to commemorate the victims of the first nuclear attack, there is a statue of a young girl holding a golden origami crane. On its base are inscribed these words: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.” The memorial was built by the efforts of the classmates of Sadako Sasaki, the subject of that statue, who was only two years old when the United States dropped the nuclear bomb, code-named “Little Boy,” about a mile from where Sadako lived.

Ten years after Little Boy decimated Hiroshima, Sadako, like so many other Japanese children, came down with leukemia as a result of her exposure to radiation. The prognosis for anyone with leukemia in those days was “terminal.” There was no hope. A friend of Sadako’s, Chizuko Hamamoto, visiting her in the hospital, reminded the suffering girl of a Japanese fable; if one folded a thousand paper cranes, the gods would grant their wish. Then Chizuko picked up a gold-colored piece of paper and folded a crane, telling Sadako, “Here is your first one.”

So Sadako began folding paper cranes, hoping the gods would grant her a life beyond age twelve. On the wings of those cranes, she would write messages, like: “I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.” But after two months, with 356 cranes left to fold, Sadako died. Her grieving school friends folded the remaining cranes, and the thousand paper birds, along with the wishes for peace and hope inscribed on their wings, were buried with Sadako.

If you have been with me for a while, you might remember I told you that story last year in my Christmas Day column, about the World Tree of Hope, a wonderful gift the LGBT community gives to the world at Christmastime. For six years now, the Rainbow World Fund, an all-volunteer, international charity based in the LGBT community, has used the symbol of Sadako’s origami cranes to decorate their internationally renown Christmas tree. 

Since 2006 the tree has been displayed in San Francisco City Hall, first at the invitation of Mayor Gavin Newsom, and now under Mayor Edwin Lee who has continued the tradition. Each year, organizers in San Francisco ask the people of the world to send them their wishes for the future as a reminder that “We are all one human family.” This year, volunteers expect over 7,000 messages, which they will lovingly inscribe on the wings of white cranes, or on the arms of silver and golden stars, folded by origami enthusiasts and volunteers they teach, and hung upon the World Tree of Hope.

Last Christmas, when I recounted the story of Sadako’s paper cranes, I didn’t give much thought to the significance of those stars on the Christmas tree. My mind got lost in the tragedy of a mushroom cloud and children still dying from radiation exposure a full decade later. But from time to time, especially when I write my On Our Radar columns about the many hard-won victories the LGBT community achieved in 2012, I have had  occasion to regret that oversight. Those stars twinkling on the Christmas tree are every bit as apropos a symbol as the soaring white cranes of hope, because all over the world, the star is the magical symbol of the wish.

There is a lullaby mothers have long sung to sleepy babies:
“When you wish upon a star.”
Do you remember it? It was originally sung by none other than Jiminy Cricket in the movie Pinocchio, the wooden puppet who wished to be a real boy. It wasn’t meant as an anthem for LGBT equality, but it could have been. Think about the lyrics from the bridge: “Fate is kind. She brings to those who love, the sweet 

fulfillment of their secret longing.” When viewed through the LGBT prism, the second line of the song puts a lump in my throat:

 “Makes no difference who you are.”

Is there a lyric more descriptive of the goal of the gay agenda? It’s such a perfect line, I have decided to make that my message this year, on the World Tree of Hope. Today, I asked that these words be written on a silver star:

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. My wish for all the LGBT people of the world is that someday soon, it makes no difference who you are.”

This year’s tree will be unveiled at a free Lighting Party, December 4. That means you have time to make your own wish upon a star, or like Sadako, to have your hopes fly over the world on the wings of a snow white crane. You can make your wish of up to 100 words here, on the Rainbow World Fund’s website, and it will be transposed onto an ornament and hung on the World Tree of Hope in time for the unveiling. If you would also like to share your wish in the comments section below, I would be honored to read your thoughts. So wish for marriage equality. Wish for an end to bullying. Wish for whatever is dearest to your heart. Take some advice from Jiminy Cricket and me:

“If your heart is in your dreams, no request seems too extreme. Anything your heart desires will come to you.”

This Thursday is Thanksgiving, when we welcome in the season of peace and goodwill toward our fellow travelers on this big blue spaceship we call Earth. Soon, hopes and wishes from all over the world will laden the branches of the World Tree of Hope. My wish for my LGBT friends will be among them. I hope yours will be too.

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