When I was born in the Netherlands in 1966 the second world war was still fresh in the minds of most people and the country was actually in the final stages of rebuilding after the destructions of the years before. The economic situation started to improve. It was the time of the flower power, the sexual revolution, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Heintje Davids a Dutch boy singing "Mama". My parents had just opened up a restaurant in a town of around a thousand people and we were among the first to have a (black and white) TV in the house. We had a garden with many animals and a big sand box full of toys for me, my little brother and our friends to play in. Therefore I had a pretty peaceful and relaxed start of my life.

One evening however, I was watching the news on TV together with my father and I remember there was this item about the Vietcong having shot down an American helicopter and the picture shown, depicted them proudly posing next to the destructed Helicopter. This was a very disturbing experience for me, as for the first time in my life, at the age of four, I was confronted with the fact that people were able to kill one another an be proud of the fact. It did not matter who was right or who was wrong. I asked my father a thousand questions as to how this could be, why, isn't there anything that can be done to stop this? and so on. It was hard for me to come to grips with such an incomprehensible fact.

Not much later (mostly through my grand parents) I learned about the cruel days caused by Adolf Hitler, how our country had been occupied and so many people were killed or deported to die in one of the numerous a concentration camps. It made me realize how lucky we were to grow up in a time of peace, where we could go to school, meet friends, have fun and build our lives unhampered by violence. I never stopped watching the news though and thus I was aware of the fact that elsewhere in the world life was not so peaceful.

Later, as a grown up, I have seen it with my own eyes as I was sent to war zones first as a member of the UN, IFOR and SFOR forces and later as a photographer, thus experiencing up close what people are capable of doing to each other. I also learned there is always more to it than meets the eye and in war there is no good guy or bad guy. As a matter of fact often that what happens in one spot is actually orchestrated in an entirely in entirely different place, in another country for reasons like "protection of economic interests", belief, and what more reasons one can find as an excuse to make things much worse as they already are. I never stopped thinking about why, how to stop this madness and how cool it is to be able to stay in a place where we can live our lives in freedom.

These thoughts just came over me as I was asked to answer this question "what does peace look like?" To answer this I first have to answer the question "What is peace?" Of course the first and obvious answer is that is is the opposite of war but actually this is a question that can be answered in a seventy thousand different manners a day (the number of thoughts the human brain can generate in this time frame).

Peace can be this tiny moment of relief on a very stressful day, it can be this warm, joyful feeling one gets hearing a child's laughter, a bird sing, watching a butterfly flutter between flowers and so on. It can also be a joyful evening meeting friends, being able to share jokes, to laugh, to enjoy life, a walk in the mountains enjoying the most beautiful sunset painting the scene in those spectacular colors. But although these are peaceful moments, it feels like this is not entirely helping me to answer the question what does peace look like.

I believe to be able to make this world a peaceful place we all need to make our own contribution, how little it may seem, to make it happen! It is not something self evident, it needs effort to create and maintain it. Therefore I tend to say that maybe a scene depicting a person or people making a contribution to make for a better world, might show what peace looks like. Not only referring to us Homo Sapiens, but also to caring for the place we live in. It might be people working in the field of natural environment, or people working to better our social environment. That said it may also be an image depicting a small gesture, almost like the creation of Adam by Michelangelo. A photograph communicating a feeling that symbolizes peace. Since peace is the opposite of war we might also visualize the feeling of peace by facial expressions like a smile, joy or even a hug or a kiss.

I will enter a couple of images that in my opinion might visualize peace or contributions to peace but at the same time I am incredibly curious of what other interpretations can be seen in September at the Alfred Fried Award!