by Mary Tesoro
Peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part. ~Earth Charter, 2000
There is never a good war or a bad peace. ~Benjamin Franklin
Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. ~Albert Einstein
It may be a sign of hope in our war-torn world that awareness is growing about the International Day of Peace – observed each year on the 21st of September. Created from a 1981 United Nations resolution, the International Day of Peace is a day of hope, vision, and opportunity. For some, it is a day that can make the difference between life and death. A 24-hour Global Ceasefire allows millions of children and adults caught in the crossfire of violent conflicts around the world to receive food, water, medical attention and supplies from relief workers. For others, it is the day we are asked to honor and commemorate nonviolence through education and public awareness.
This year’s Peace Day theme emphasizes the interdependent and mutually reinforcing relationship between Peace and Sustainable Development. At a historic summit of the world’s leaders last September, the 193 Member States of the United Nations unanimously adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals integral for achieving peace in our time. (See the 17 Goals at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs). Each goal is viewed as a building block in the global architecture of peace. Together, they address the fundamental needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, they are “our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people.” Visit the UN’s page http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday to read more about how sustainable development and peace reinforce each other and liberate resources needed for societies to develop and prosper.
The International Day of Peace is a day to call forth the values, spirit, and service needed to move us toward a culture of peace and a world that works for all. In recent years, global observance of the International Day of Peace has expanded to include millions of people in all parts of the world. Events range in scale from private gatherings, to public concerts and forums where hundreds of thousands of people participate. Anyone anywhere can celebrate Peace Day just by commemorating—and thus strengthening–the ideals of peace within and among nations and peoples. A commemoration can be as simple as lighting a candle or sitting in silent meditation. Or it can involve getting your co-workers, organization, community or government engaged in a large event. You can also share thoughts, messages and pictures to commemorate Peace Day on social media. Pathways to Peace provides a great list of Action ideas at http://internationaldayofpeace.org/actions/.
One of our local nonprofits (Safe-SLO) offers free classes for adults and youth each year during the week of September 21. In accordance with the International Day of Peace and International Aiki Peace Week, free classes such as Embodied Peacemaking for Adults and Peaceful Games for Children offer the opportunity to realize that Peace is not just an idea: it is an embodied state. Times and locations of the free classes will post in August at aikidosanluisobispo.com and, along with other events, at http://www.informationpress.net.
Whereas peacebuilding activities can range from personal acts of kindness toward others to global inter-governmental programs, whatever anyone does contributes to a larger web of understanding, tolerance, and cooperation between individuals, communities, societies and nations.