Celebrate September 21, the International Day of Peace

By Tom H. Hastings

“You and I–my fellow citizens–need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice.”

–Dwight D. Eisenhower, from his Farewell Address, 17 January 1961

Our holidays all mark something aspirational–or at least they should, until they are commodified. Some are more joyous, some more reflective. 

Now comes the International Day of Peace, 21 September.

The UN declared this day by unanimous resolution in 1981. Over the years, some have striven to make it more than a nod to a nice idea. 

Few are perfectly peaceful people. The vast majority of us are generally peaceful for much of the time most days. 

The idea of the International Day of Peace isn’t so much about perfection, but rather about reminding ourselves that peace is a mighty and worthy goal.

 In the US, thousands of events, vigils, dances, trainings, religious services, protests, kids’ celebrations, and much more will be part of Campaign Nonviolence Action Days, beginning on the International Day of Peace and concluding on the International Day of Nonviolence, so September 21-October 2.

The UN resolution declaring October 2 the International Day of Nonviolence was adopted in 2007 and marks the birth of Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948). While Gandhi was far from the first person to practice nonviolence, he pioneered the strategic use of mass liberatory nonviolent action to change policies–whether corporate, public, or institutional. 

So the Campaign Nonviolence Action Days are a dozen days of focus on deeper understanding of the roots of a peaceful approach to everything from parenting to teaching to community relationships to peace with the earth and much more. Coördinator Rivera Sun, nonviolence trainer and author of novels that open vistas of human possibilities to transform conflict, notes that these Action Days have been building every year for the past decade

From a handful of actions in the beginning to more than 4,600 of them last year, the network is growing across the US and the world. Coördinator Sun and others have built a Campaign Nonviolence Toolkit to help people and groups think about how to create an event in their town.

They have created a searchable list of nearly 5,000 Campaign Nonviolence actions, organized by locale, for the 12 days coming up. 

If you can’t find some action near you, consider creating your own. Then register it on the Campaign Nonviolence website and others will be drawn to join you. I decided to do a nonviolence training in my town, for example, and it is full with a waiting list. 

Since I began this look at peace commemorations with a quote from a warrior, I’m going to give him the last word as well. 

“I like to believe that people, in the long run, are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”–Dwight Eisenhower, Broadcast with Prime Minister Macmillan in London, 8/31/59

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is Coördinator of Conflict Resolution BA/BS degree programs and certificates at Portland State University, and PeaceVoice Senior Editor

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