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                             PEACE WALKER      


                                                          Derek Walker Youngs




                  "They were bombing

             me on my first breath! 

                  My mother delivered me

                   alone during an air raid

                  in the Second World War.

                 Now, wouldn’t that make

                   you want to dedicate

                  your life to peace?"




And dedicate his life to peace, he did!

Since 1986, Derek Walker Youngs has

walked over 23,000km in eighteen countries.


On August 6, 2005, Peace Walker,

Derek Youngs will walk into

Hiroshima Japan for the 60th anniversary

of the bombing of the city.


He will place origami Peace Cranes

on the statue of Sadako,* who died

at the age of twelve from the effects

of the nucleur bomb.


                      Sadako age 12


                        Inscription at bottom

                                    of statue:


       "This is our cry,This is our prayer,

                   Peace in the World"



         May I introduce

          'Peace Walker'

 to the special readers of



*** Derek's August 6th visit to Hiroshima Japan






      "PEACE WALKER"  

                      Derek Walker Youngs



 When did you decide to actually

 take that first step?



My first “official step” was in 1986:

The Great Peace March, a walk

across the USA.  But perhaps my

true first step was at birth.

My mother delivered me alone

during an air raid in the Second

World War.


I mean, hell, they were bombing me

on my first breath! Now, wouldn’t

that make you want to dedicate

your life to peace?


Did you have a timeline when

you were going to finish?


Well, to answer this one I guess

we have to go to answer #1:

The Great Peace March. 


Actually, I did have a time line. 

I figured I would do my thing, 

walking for nine months, and then I

would return to my idyllic life on 

Galiano Island in BC, Canada.



Have you a certain person/persons

that inspired and awakened,

 'Derek, the Peace Walker'?



Of course, one can’t help admiring

and respecting great people like

Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Bishop Tutu

and Nelson Mandela, for example,

but that wouldn’t be the true answer.

More likely, it is the thousands of

virtually unknown people that I have

met on my walks who continue to

inspire me to this day.

For instance, those 500-odd people

(and they really were odd) I walked

with on the Great Peace March are

still my heroes.



Being born with bombs dropping

all around you, you have certainly

made an effort to unite the world

in peace.  Aren't there moments

when you long to be doing a

'9 to 5' job in an office behind

a desk?



Are you kidding?  My god, I

tried that once about forty-five

years ago.  No, I prefer to live in

a real world with real issues.

But if you are asking me if I get

discouraged at the extremely slow

pace of our conscious evolution,

you're darned right!



You were on The Great Peace

March in 1986 and just continued

after that?





That's about it.  You see,

in those nine months I saw the

potential of who we are as humans,

and that gave me hope.  And continues

even today.




What made you choose

that march?





In 1986 I was living on an island

where I spent a lot of time pondering

the so-called meaning of life.  All I

could come up with was that

I knew I was capable of doing

more in my life, but I couldn't

figure what that was.


Then one day I read about a

nine month walking commitment

to "Bring down the Bombs",

called The Great Peace March

for Nuclear Disarmament.


Now that sure seemed like

'doing something'. However,

I have to tell you there was an

element of naivete in that decision.




Do people ever say "Well the Peace

March was a failure.  Look at us,

now in WW3 and about to begin WW4.




No, actually nobody has ever said that

to me.  Maybe you are wondering

if we made a difference by marching

that year.  If so, the answer is a

resounding  "YES!"



Did you ever dream as a child

that your purpose on this earth

was/is being a peacemaker?




I don't think that I was that

aware of my purpose when I was



Then again, in retrospect I

can look back and see that

even as a teenager I was

involved with conflict resolution.


For example, I did a fair amount

of volunteer work with my

incarcerated peers, and in my

twenties, I was active as a

Big Brother.



Do you write books?



This question sets my mind

racing.  As a storyteller, many

people have encouraged me to

write.  I have dabbled with writing

and even wrote a children's story

called "Mary the Peace Pony".


It was a true story of how Mary

met me and we walked across

Europe together for two years.

Although the publishers rejected

the story, I personally didn't feel

rejected, so I continue down the

writer's path and maybe one day

there will be a book of my stories.




"When spider webs unite, they can halt even a lion"

                               old african saying



Do you ever encounter negative

comments from people who spend

their every waking moment acquiring

material things?




I wouldn't say negative but

definitely there are people who

think I am a little loony and

don't understand why I walk

for peace.  Then again,

judgement comes from distance,

so these are people who are

either too afraid to come closer

to me, or don't care too.


Therefore people either think

I am walking towards or away

from something.  Its difficult

for them to see I am just

walking each moment.



Are you married, have kids?



Yes, I am smitten with the

most beautiful and amazing

woman on Earth.  We came

together fully understanding

that walking is a major passion

in my life.


We are very different in many ways, and

the support, appreciation and acceptance

of these differences are the golden threads

that bind our hearts.


I have two amazing daughters who have

blessed me with with grandchildren.




How have you supported your family

or do you make money on your walks?



I have never asked for nor

needed sponsors, as I have

always felt my walking

was more personal than public.


Therefore I have fasted for many

days, because there was no food.

Imagine  'dumster diving' with

Japanese Buddhist monks - now

that is a spiritual experience!


The generosity of people I

meet as I walk has been

overwhelming.  When I

return home I put on my other

hat, which is - massage therapist.


For over thirty years, my clients have

been major teachers in my life and

have supported my family and me




Where do you sleep while

on the road?




I can't imagine a place

I haven't slept.  I was

given a millionaire's estate

to live in by myself, and I

have slept at the side of the

road.  Mostly my home was

my little tent, of which I

became very possessive.






Do you give talks in schools, churches, etc.

in each town/city you walk through?





There has always been an inward

struggle about my walking.  This is

where I fluctuate between the

public person and the private. 


I have been interviewed on major

television stations and newspaper

around the world.  During this time

I tell stories to schools and churches, etc.

I believe life is about balance, and

consequently there have been months

where no one has known that I passed

through their town or village.  This is

for my own peace.



Have your years of being a

Peace Walker given you insight

into why we continue to kill

one another in the name of peace?




As I get older, my philosophical

musings seems to simplify.  I

believe that in life we struggle

with love or fear, which reminds

me of a story:


     One day some time ago, a Native

American grandfather was sitting

on a rock talking to his young

grandson.  He tells the boy he

has two wolves inside of him

struggling with each other.


The first is the wolf of peace,

love and kindness.

The other wolf is fear, greed

and hatred.


   "Which wolf will win, grandfather?" 

 asks the young boy.  "Whichever one

I feed"  is his reply.





If you were able to look back

on your life after you make your

transition, what would you say?



I lived well, I loved well.



Do you ever fall in love

on the road?




Constantly.  In order to walk in

faith and trust you need to

have an open heart.  Therefore

you are extremely vunerable to

all that surrounds you.


I have fallen in love with silence

and the sound of the hoof beats of

Mary the Peace Pony, the birth

of a child and the death of an old

friend.  And of course with the

many people that take me into

their hearts.



Have others joined you

on your journey for brief






Yes, many times. Once I was

joined by a traveling farm.

There was a green tractor with

a beautiful bouquet of flowers

on the bonnet.


Sitting on the tractor was

a stunning young woman, wearing

a bright colored headband and

tattered brown shorts.


The tractor was connected to

a twenty-five foot wagon that

seemed to be held together

by a complex system of string,

rope, wire, and indescribable objects



There was a ladder, canvas bags, tipi

poles, and a wide assortment of tin

cans hanging almost ceremoniously

on the sides.  Behind this was another

vivid blue wagon, with a six-foot wooden

replica of a cassette tape on its front.


On this wagon was a cage with an

enormous pig named 'Caroline' in it.

She was a very contented pig who

normally grunted in a low

overtone chant.


Behind this was a third, much tinier wagon

that strained under the enormous weight of

a beautiful brown and white cow

called Alfa Romeo.  Next, tied to the

side of the second wagon was a shabby

gray goat called 'Stinky'.


And just when you think that would be

enough, attached to the other side

of the wagon was a very elegant

white pony, the mother, and the

daughter was pinto in color.


Lastly stood the  'Noah'  of this traveling

Ark, an urban farmer, with no shirt

and wearing orange wooden shoes!

(after all, we were in Holland) 

We all walked to Germany together.




Have you ever felt hungry, cold

and just fed up with the world,

ready to throw in the towel?




Yes, it was the summer of '86,

while walking across the USA

with the Great Peace March. 

Maybe it was in Nebraska,

my memory fades on this part.


I found myself walking alone.

Looking around me, I wondered

aloud, "What the hell am I doing

here?  There is no one here, just me

and acres and acres of corn and the

pungent smell of pig manure burning

my nostrils. 


I am suppose to be walking for peace

and making a difference.  Nobody even

knows I am here, so really, WHO CARES?"

I stopped walking for a moment, and

then I heard a little voice inside

that said  'YOU CARE'.  I smiled and

continued my walk.





Do you believe in God?




You mean like a Monty

Python kinda guy pointing

down to earth with a big finger?

I haven't seen him, but I have

seen collective consciousness

work miracles.



What is your favorite

and least favorite place

you have ever visited

and why?




Sorry, I have never been

able to respond to favorite

and least favorite.  I'm sure it

sounds evasive, but every place

is just different.


For example, walking naked for miles

and miles on a deserted beach

with a pony in New Zealand was

cool (sorry for the pun), standing

at the Berlin Wall with my hammer

was inspirational and sitting in

front of a military base in Athens

with seven Japanese Buddhist monks

was frightening and powerful.


Traveling with a children's circus

for peace in France was heart warming.




Do you want to die 'on your feet'

walking for peace?




My immediate response is

"Oh, hell no."  Then again,

I can't imagine not walking,

just walking slower.  So

maybe you are on to something





Would you share some things

the readers of "ON THE ROAD

WITH JUDY!"  can do to help

unite our world in love and

peace instead of shedding

our brothers blood?




I think we spend far too

much time looking at others

and how they contribute.

In doing so we tend to sabotage

our own contributions by

thinking we are small and our

gifts and talents are not

worthy.  It's challenging for

us to understand that our

diversity is our real strength.



I can't remember where this came from

but it was something like:

"You don't have to do great things, just

small things with great love."


On a practical note:  just 'Google'

what you love and your path will open!



Is violence a necessary

part of evolution, a catalyst

perhaps, to get us to grow?

If our world was at peace,

would we ever venture to Mars,

the moon and all the other planets

we shall inhabit soon?




When I think of peace, I don't

imagine us all sitting around like

Buddha's with large bellies with

huge grins on our faces.


I think peace is a process and

not a goal.  It is evolving, and

changing, in fact we already

have peace.  And we can have

more, and that will always be.


I keep coming back to "Life

is a journey, not a destination."

So, onward to the Moon and Mars

and let's hope we don't screw

them up.





Do you believe in reincarnation

and if so what do you think

you would like to return as?




Not sure if I believe; then again

I sure think it's possible.  I do

believe what is happening in this

lifetime, though.  If I were to

return, I would choose to come

back as a deer.



When you are walking have you felt

your are protected by 'unseen

hand' or guided to food and shelter

when so needed?




Not always, but many times. 

On one occasion, I awoke about

four in the morning, to the busy

activity of the Buddhist monks

I was with, who were preparing

themselves to walk. 


They are people of few words and

large actions, and I never knew when

I would be walking, let alone where.


I dragged myself out of my sleeping bag

and obediently walked with them as I

had done each morning for the past few

months.  Later that evening I found

myself sitting on a road, blockading

an American military base outside of



What a dramatic sight!  Try to imagine

the power of seven monks with orange

robes, shaven heads, all drumming

on small hand drums.  They were

chanting "Nam Mu Mya Ho Renge Kyo",

a prayer for peace. 




There is magical power in these drums;

their sounds evoke much emotion. 

Before long, three truckloads of soldiers

jumped out and lined up in front of us

with rifles aimed. 


Next came the ominous wailing

of the Greek police sirens.  The

Greeks are generally known as

excitable people, so try to imagine

the hysterical scene around us.


The police ran up and down the line

of drumming monks, waving handguns

in our faces.  How absurd - they were

yelling in Greek to the Monks who

understood little English let alone Greek.




They were threatening us with arrest

and many unimaginable horrors if we

did not stop.  I tried looking ahead as

I drummed and chanted.  Out of the

corner of my eye I was watching the monks

and their complete calmness and dedication

to their prayers of peace. 


At that moment, I thought, "What

am I doing here?  I'm just a simple

man from Canada who would like to

see a better future for his grandchildren."


I tell you I was absolutely terrified, for

I knew this chaotic scene could turn very

violent if just one person panicked.  I took

a deep breath, closed my eyes, and

continued chanting.  The next moment is

very difficult for me to describe.


It was as if there was a marvelous cloak

of love draped around me.  There was this

feeling of complete calmness and serenity.

I knew at that moment I was at the

right place at the right time doing

the right thing...for me.


As I walk I have heard many

people say they are searching

for God or Spirit in their lives. 

For me that would be a

of oneness, harmony, all in

balance.  Well, at that moment

I was there with God/Spirit and

fear no longer had its grip on me. 




I suppose it's not always necessary to

climb to the top of a mountain to

experience God.  It seems she/he

can also be at the base, and in this case,

a military base.



As a pilgrim, do you have any

privacy?  Even your darkest sides

have given birth in public. 

Would you tell us a little about that?




Yes, it's true.  I would love to

think I have transcended my ego,

but the truth is it was too exhausting

to keep hiding my feelings.


Consequently, I have made some

grave mistakes and amazing

discoveries.  There have been

times where I have not been

sensitive to others.  I have

walked the fine line between the

ego and the sublime and fallen off.






Having tasted the delights of being alive

instead of merely existing, I want now to

continue living passionately, for there is

no turning back.  I have enrolled in the

'School of Life'.........forever.


Therefore I continue to take risks

by letting people know my vulnerability.

In doing so I have to trust that I will be

okay, that others won't hurt me or think

I'm strange. 


I am learning to accept the light and

the shadow parts of myself.  I choose

to live a life of trust, which magically

turns to faith, a faith where rational

mind tempered by heart becomes

a deep self-knowing.



Has your view changed since the

1986 Great Peace March about what

will bring peace on this planet?




It is not the destination but the journey.

It is not the number of people that you

meet, but the quality of the meeting.


It is not the distance of your walk,

but the commitment.  When you

'do something' in your life that is

much bigger than you, something that

does not give you direct feedback,

it will constantly test your faith.

In this way, you learn that through

action you become closer to God, the

Great Spirit and you.


With folded hands, love and respect,

Peace Walker

















                            Sadako *


* Sadako's best friend told her of an

old Japanese legend, which said that,

anyone who folds a thousand origami

 paper cranes would be granted a wish.

Sadako hoped that the gods would grant

her wish to get well so that she could run again.

She spent fourteen months in the hospital,

folding over 1,300 paper cranes, out of medicine

bottle wrappers and any other paper she

could find, before dying at the age of twelve. 


          This interview is dedicated

         in loving memory of Sadako    


*** Derek's August 6th visit to Hiroshima Japan





                     Children’s Peace Memorial-Hiroshima Peace Park on 8/6/05

                                                          60th anniversary of the bombing

                  L to R;  Carolyn Affleck - friend of Derek’s and fellow Camino walker,

                                         Crispy Madden friend of Derek and resident of Japan

                                                   **Bruce Nicols, & Derek Young - Peace Walker




            The Stone – memorial stone to “Unknown Civilians Killed in War”

                                       STONEWALK JAPAN 2005


                                                 Bruce Nicols

                                        walked in STONEWALK Japan 05'






 All photographs curtesy of Peace Walker    

and Bruce Nicols          


















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