The United Nations' International Day of Peace - marked every year on September 21 - is a global holiday when individuals, communities, nations and governments highlight efforts to end conflict and promote peace.
Established by U.N. resolution in 1982, "Peace Day" has grown to include millions of people around the world who participate in all kinds of events, large and small.
The new resolution, a living instrument in the service of peace "declares that the International Day of Peace shall henceforth be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the Day...it invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, and non-governmental organizations and individuals to commemorate, in an appropriate manner, the International Day of Peace, including through education and public awareness, and to cooperate with the United Nations in the establishment of the global ceasefire.”
Every year on the morning of International Day of Peace at United Nations Headquarters the Peace Bell is rung by the Secretary General of the UN. This bell was a gift by Japan. It is cast in coins donated by children on all continents, and considered a symbol of global solidarity to “reminder of the human cost of war.” The inscription reads: “Long live absolute world peace.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently said: “Peace is one of humanity’s most precious needs. It is also the United Nations highest calling.”
Everyone is welcome to participate in and celebrate this global day by joining in peace with millions of people from around the world. Celebrations now take place in every country. l
Remember you can commemorate International Day of Peace in a personal way as well by spending time on September 21st to reflect and meditate on how to cultivate more peace in your life…both inner and outer peace…through peaceful thoughts, words and actions.
May Peace Prevail On Earth!
War is the plague that human beings bring upon themselves. It is also a plague we might be able to end. On any given day since you and I were born, some part of the world has been at war–in 2003 the total number of open conflicts was thirty. In the twentieth century at least 108 million people died in wars. Of the 20 largest military budgets on earth, 14 belong to developing countries. The United States spends more on its military than the next 16 countries combined.
That war is the major problem in the world is undeniable.
The need for a new idea is just as undeniable.
The new idea is to bring peace one person at a time until the world reaches a critical mass of peacemakers instead of warmakers.
“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” – AJ Muste
Why Ending War Hasn’t Worked
Peace movements have tried three ways for bringing war to an end:
Activism, the approach of putting political pressure on governments that wage war. Activism involves protests and public demonstrations, lobbying and political commitment. Almost every war creates some kind of peace movement opposed to it.
Why has it failed.
Because the protesters are not heard.
Because they are worn down by frustration and resistance.
Because they are far outnumbered by the war interests in society.
Because their idealism turns to anger and violence.
Activism has left us with the ironic picture of outraged peacemakers who wind up contributing to the total sum of violence in the world.
Humanitarianism, the approach of helping the victims of war. Bringing relief to victims is an act of kindness and compassion. As embodied by the International Red Cross, this effort is ongoing and attracts thousands of volunteers worldwide. Every nation on earth approves of humanitarianism.
Why has it failed?
Because humanitarians are wildly outnumbered by soldiers and warmakers.
Because of finances. The International Red Cross’s annual budget of $1.8 billion dollars is a tiny fraction of military budgets around the world.
Because the same countries that wage war also conduct humanitarian efforts, keeping the two activities very separate.
Because humanitarians show up on the scene after the war has already begun.
Personal transformation, the approach of ending war one person at a time. The prevailing idea is that war begins in each human heart and can only end there. The religious tradition of praying for peace is the closest most people will ever come to ending war in their own hearts. Most people have actually never heard of this approach.
Why has it failed?
Because nobody has really tried it.
“Can you be the change that you wish to see in the world?” – Mahatma Gandhi
Why War Ends With You
The approach of personal transformation is the idea of the future for ending war. It depends on the only advantage that people of peace have over warmakers: sheer numbers. If enough people in the world transformed themselves into peacemakers, war could end. The leading idea here is critical mass. It took a critical mass of human beings to embrace electricity and fossil fuels, to teach evolution and adopt every major religion. When the time is right and enough people participate, critical mass can change the world.
Can it end war?
There is precedent to believe that it might. The ancient Indian ideal of Ahimsa, or non-violence, gave Gandhi his guiding principle of reverence for life. In every spiritual tradition it is believed that peace must exist in one’s heart before it can exist in the outer world.
Personal transformation deserves chance.
“When a person is established in non-violence, those in his vicinity cease to feel hostility.” – Patanjali, ancient Indian sage
The Best Reason to Become a Peacemaker
If you transform yourself into a peacemaker, you won’t become an activist marching in the streets. You will not be “anti” anything. No money is required. All you are asked to do is to go within and dedicate yourself to peace.
It just might work.
Even if you don’t immediately see a decline in violence around the world, you will know in your heart that you have dedicated your own life to peace.
But the single best reason to become a peacemaker is that every other approach has failed.
We don't know what number the critical mass is--the best we can hope is to bring about change by personal transformation. Isn't it worth a few moments of your day to end 30 wars around the world and perhaps every future war that is certain to break out?
Seven Practices for Peace
The program for peacemakers asks you to follow a specific practice every day, each one centered on the theme of peace.
Sunday: Being for Peace
Monday: Thinking for Peace
Tuesday: Feeling for Peace
Wednesday: Speaking for Peace
Thursday: Acting for Peace
Friday: Creating for Peace
Saturday: Sharing for Peace
Our hope is that you will create peace on every level of your life. Each practice takes only a few minutes. You can be as private or outspoken as you wish. But those around you will know that you are for peace, not just through good intentions but by the way you conduct your life on a daily basis.
Being for Peace
Today, take 5 minutes to meditate for peace. Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Put your attention on your heart and inwardly repeat these four words: Peace, Harmony, Laughter, Love. Allow these words to radiate from your heart's stillness out into your body.
As you end your meditation, say to yourself, "Today I will relinquish all resentments and grievances." Bring into your mind anyone against whom you have a grievance and let it go. Send that person your forgiveness.
Thinking for Peace
Thinking has power when it is backed by intention. Today, introduce the intention of peace in your thoughts. Take a few moments of silence, then repeat this ancient prayer:
Let me be loved, let me be happy, let me be peaceful.
Let my friends be happy, loved, and peaceful.
Let my perceived enemies be happy, loved, and peaceful.
Let all beings be happy, loved, and peaceful.
Let the whole world experience these things.
Any time during the day if you are overshadowed by fear or anger, repeat these intentions. Use this prayer to get back on center.
Feeling for Peace
This is the day to experience the emotions of peace. The emotions of peace are compassion, understanding, and love.
Compassion is the feeling of shared suffering. When you feel someone else's suffering, there is the birth of understanding.
Understanding is the knowledge that suffering is shared by everyone. When you understand that you aren't alone in your suffering, there is the birth of love.
When there is love there is the opportunity for peace.
As your practice, observe a stranger some time during your day. Silently say to yourself, "This person is just like me.. Like me, this person has experienced joy and sorrow, despair and hope, fear and love. Like me, this person has people in his or her life who deeply care and love them. Like me, this person's life is impermanent and will one day end. This person's peace is as important as my peace. I want peace, harmony, laughter, and love in their life and the life of all beings."
Creating for Peace
Today, come up with at least one creative idea to resolve a conflict, either in your personal life or your family circle or among friends. If you can, try and create an idea that applies to your community, the nation, or the whole world.
You may change an old habit that isn't working, look at someone a new way, offer words you never offered before, or think of an activity that brings people together in good feeling and laughter.
Second, invite a family member or friend to come up with one creative idea of this kind on their own. Creativity feels best when you are the one thinking up the new idea or approach. Make it known that you accept and enjoy creativity. Be loose and easy. Let the ideas flow and try out anything that has appeal. The purpose here is to bond, because only when you bond with others can there be mutual trust. When you trust, there is no need for hidden hostility and suspicion, which are the two great enemies of peace.
Sharing for Peace
Today, share your practice of peacemaking with two people. Give them this information and invite them to begin the daily practice. As more of us participate in this sharing, our practice will expand into a critical mass.
Today joyfully celebrate your own peace consciousness with at least one other peace-conscious person. Connect either trough e-mail or phone.
Share your experience of growing peace.
Share your gratitude that someone else is as serious about peace as you are.
Share your ideas for helping the world move closer to critical mass.
Do whatever you can, in small or large ways, to assist anyone who wants to become a peacemaker.