"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

May Peace Prevail on Earth


Monday (September 21) was the International Day of Peace, one day each year designated by the United Nations as an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date. Of course, such a day is much more than a "Hallmark" holiday, and it seems a shame that every day is not an International Day of Peace. But I digress. During the General Assembly discussion of the resolution establishing Peace Day it was suggested that:

"Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples…This day will serve as a reminder to all peoples that our organization, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organization as a constantly pealing bell reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace."

Our local celebration of Peace Day in Bellevue, Washington brought together local peacemakers, all with a common goal and with many ideas of how to reach it. And that is the beauty of it; we come with a variety of approaches to peacemaking, but with common (or should I say uncommon) grounding in nonviolence and in the committed "service of peace". Whatever our differences, we check them at the door and work together for peace.

The United Nations Association (Seattle Chapter) was represented, and one of its representatives led the Flag Ceremony, in which the names of all the nations of the world are read in alphabetical order, and as each one is read a participant brings that nation's flag up to a table and places it in a stand. The nations are read in groups of ten, and after each ten nation's names are spoken, we say (altogether) a line from the World Peace Prayer: "May peace prevail on Earth."

As the last flag (number 194) was placed in its stand, and I looked at the table filled with these symbols of many nations all struggling to live together on our fragile planet, I was moved by the diversity that exists on this Earth that we all share. The World Peace Prayer Ceremony is a global celebration of the oneness of humanity, and as diverse as we all are around the world in so many ways, we truly are one great human family. And as with any family, we must (even with all our foibles and dysfunctionality) learn to live together. And in today's violent world in which we have developed the tools (nuclear weapons) of our own demise, that is more important than ever before. To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "We must learn to live together as brothers [and sisters] or perish together as fools."

The United Nations Association is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports the work of the United Nations, and among other things encourages public support for strong U.S. leadership in the U.N. If you believe, as I do, that the United Nations provides the best chance for the nations of the world to learn (and work) to live together, then consider supporting the United Nations Association in its work. There are United Nations Association chapters in many cities in the U.S.

If we all (both citizens and nations of the world) work to build up the one organization that is capable of bringing the nations together, perhaps future generations will be able to live together in peace.

May Peace Prevail on Earth,


P.S. - The theme of this year's International Day of Peace was Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation. Learn more at the U.N. WMD-We Must Disarm Web page. You can also find a list of many organizations working for nuclear weapons abolition at my Nuclear Abolitionist Blog.

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