September 21st has been celebrated as the International Day of Peace since 1995. On its declaration, then-UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali said that we must work for peace together, for the world is crying for peace. On the twentieth anniversary of the inauguration of the Day of Peace, Boutros-Ghali’s words hold as true as they did so long ago.
Indeed, it seems that peace is nowhere to be found – neither at the home front and nor abroad. On the one hand, in the USA, racial tensions have skyrocketed over the past few years, and political hyperpolarization has caused the threat-perceptions of those who identify as liberals or conservatives to rise. On that note, we can look at the events in Ferguson, Missouri, or we can look at the recent jailing of Kim Davis, or we can even look at the perceived War on the Police. On the other hand, the war in Syria has caused many deaths and an influx of refugees, creating humanitarian emergencies. This, however, is but an instance of conflict in our world today – some others, such as the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, the conflict in Somalia, the nuclearization of Iran, the brewing tensions in the China Sea, and the Russian conflict with Ukraine constitute but a minority of our problems today. Clearly, there is a cry for peace – but can peace ever be found?
But do not despair! Unbeknownst to most of us, individuals all around the world have achieved peace through many a way – some have forgiven their attackers, and some have forgiven even the murderers of their children; some have retreated to meditation; some have taken to improving the world one community or even one child at a time. Malala resisted terrorism and has helped fight childhood illiteracy. Slowly, but surely, there is a movement towards peace – even if it is much more silent than the movement towards war.
There is reason to believe that the question of what peace means and how We as the human race as well as we as individuals can get to peace will be the defining question of our times. Therefore, September 21st will serve not only as a celebration of the aforementioned successes in creating peace, but also will serve as a time for reflection: reflections on how to deal with our ‘conflicts’ with one-another – big or small – in ways which are creative and constructive.
On this day, we invite you to share your peace with us: What does peace mean to you? Can you share any ‘moments of peace’ from your life? What images remind you of the word peace? And as you reflect on this theme of peace, we also encourage you to peruse our book display which has been meticulously chosen for just such a contemplation!
Happy International Day of Peace!