In 1981, the United Nations unanimously passed a resolution creating the International Day of Peace, a worldwide observance that takes place each year on September 21. The UN General Assembly established this occasion as a devotion to strengthening the ideals of peace through observing 24 hours of non-violence and ceasefire. Basically, Peace Day was designed to bring humanity together to commit to creating a culture of peace.
The dictionary defines peace as first freedom from disturbance; tranquility. Also as a state or period in which there is no war or in which war has ended.
But in a world that seems so foundationally disconnected and divisive, what does peace look like in action? How can we comprehend a lofty and aspirational term like peace? Even with these definitions front of mind, I still find myself grasping for a deeper understanding of what “peace” means in my life today.
I took to the United Nations website for more insight and found this: “This year, it has been clearer than ever that we are not each other’s enemies. Rather, our common enemy is a tireless virus that threatens our health, security, and very way of life. COVID-19 has thrown our world into turmoil and forcibly reminded us that what happens in one part of the planet can impact people everywhere” (United Nations).
Each year, the International Day of Peace has a theme. This year (2020) the theme is “Shaping Peace Together.” Again, from the United Nations website, “Celebrate the day by spreading compassion, kindness, and hope in the face of the pandemic. Stand together with the UN against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred. Join us so that we can shape peace together.”
I think of videos from Italy, where citizens under lockdown sang together. I think of New York City, where apartment windows were filled with the sound of clapping for frontline workers. I think of people who donated their entire stimulus check to local food banks. I think of birthday parties by video call and living room concerts. I think of people coming together to take care of one another.
Of course, I type this warily. With a grain of salt. With a hint of exhaustion. Because I also think of hatred. And anger. And disregard for science and for human life. But those folks and those ideas are not worth more than this small paragraph. I am saving space in my heart for the peacemakers.
I am saving space for those who step forward with an eagerness for change. For those who believe in peace, in justice, in fairness, in equity. Thank you for being a peacemaker. Thank you for choosing humanity.
No words could conclude a conversation about peace better than those of Mother Teresa, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”