Two years ago today I wrote a blog called “What’s So Funny About Peace Love & Understanding?”, named after the Elvis Costello song.
Basically, it was a rant. The 21st September every year for more than a decade has been recognised by every member of the UN as International Peace Day. But who knew? On the whole the public are unaware that the day even exists and successive governments of the leading the nations have failed to take up the opportunity to let their people aware that they support the day.
Thanks to WordPress putting it on their Freshly Pressed page, a couple of thousand people read it and liked it and some thanked me for letting them know about the day. Nothing has really changed since I posted that blog two years ago though so I’m going to repost it today, update it where necessary and try to make a difference in my own little way…
So, here we are – 21st September – the international day of the peace, recognised annually by all member states of the UN (which incidentally includes Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran) for more than ten years. But who knew? Certainly if you follow me on any social media network you would know because I’ve been bombarding all my connections with the messages of, not-for-profit and founders of Peace Day, Peace One Day for a few years but otherwise it seems the decade old message of the organisation just isn’t getting through.
In a world where a fairly average musician whose only talent seems to be in gaining publicity for herself can have over 53,000,000 “Likes” on Facebook, how can Peace One Day – whose sole purpose is to gain recognition for it’s cause of trying create peace around the world – have only 102,000 (incidentally, that’s double what it was when I first wrote this) it’s Page? Why are the likes of UK politician Andrew Mitchell (because of his “foul-mouthed tirade”) and Apple’s IOS6 trending on Twitter but not Peace Day, Peace One Day or anything related?
Even with stars like Jude Law, Annie Lennox, Eliza Doolittle and Elton John heavily involved in the project, each year there seems to be very little media attention towards the day. But let’s not dwell on the negatives, in the spirit of Peace Day, I’ll now focus on the positive work of Peace One Day…
If you’ve read my previous blogs on the subject, you will know that Peace One Day was formed in 1999 by Jeremy Gilley – an independent film maker. One man, initially working alone, trying to get just one day of peace and non-violence recognised internationally. He filmed the journey he took, the meetings he held and the story is very moving and inspirational.
You may be asking, what good is one day? It’s a start and it can make an incredible difference. In 2009, all sides fighting in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, declared that for one day the violence would stop. This allowed vital supplies to reach areas where otherwise aid wouldn’t have got through. On Peace Day, over the last 3 years, over 4 million children in Afghanistan have been immunised from killer diseases because the shooting has stopped. That’s quite an achievement isn’t it?
Before you start saying that Peace is a hippy notion though you should consider that Peace One Day isn’t just about finding peace and non-violence on a global scale but also with nations, cities, streets, tribes, businesses, families and individuals. A fierce forty year feud between Adidas and Puma ended in 2009 with a hand shake for Peace Day and there’s nothing hippy about the running shoe business. Peace One Day, through sponsorship deals with the likes of Coca-Cola, ECOver, Ben & Jerry’s and Innocent has been able to promote the message of peace throughout the world via education packs and has allowed Jeremy Gilley and his team to travel the world spreading it’s message.
In the last year, Gilley has been using Skype to hold Q&A sessions with school children around the world, educating them about the work of Peace One Day and, sadly, in nations where children don’t know anything other than war and hatred, often teaching them about peace in general.
Peace One Day is free from political and religious links so don’t even use that argument. Peace Day is there for all of us – we shouldn’t need one specific day to make peace but as it’s there why not use it? Peace One Day is a charity but it doesn’t thrust it’s clutching hands towards your purses and wallets because all it really asks is that you make a commitment towards peace on it’s website. It suggests organising football matches (through it’s One Day, One Goal) and, around the world today, teams will be playing to promote the message. Me, personally, I’ve added Peace One Day logos and supportive messages to my company’s website and Facebook Page for the day – it hasn’t cost me anything to do and hopefully it will mean a few more people become aware of the cause. I’ve also been using social media to promote the message of Peace Day and Peace One Day to anyone who’ll listen though it largely seems to have gone ignored.
A friend told me on Facebook the other day that Peace will never be possible all the time religion exists on Earth. I think this is a lazy attitude and I told him that that Peace will never happen all the time their are cynics walking the planet.
Instead of just shrugging off or ignoring Peace Day, why not visit the website, watch some of the videos and make peace with someone in your life – a neighbour or a family member perhaps? Follow @peaceoneday on Twitter, “like” the organisation on Facebook and make a note in your diary for next year – 21st September is Peace Day and long may it remain so.