Happy International Day of Peace!
Every year, September 21st is the day that is dedicated to works around the world toward peace, one person, one act at a time. An international day focused on peace provides simultaneous opportunities to stop all violent acts in reverence of peace. A day for international peace is an idea that challenges us to make a conscious effort to be more peaceful. If we can succeed in practicing peace for one day, surely we can do it for another and another until we have sustained peace for much longer periods of time.
The perceptions of peace are fluid, with some perhaps feeling like peace should be left up to professionals navigating large-scale conflicts. Whereas building and maintaining peace are distinct, every person can contribute in one form or another wherever they are through small acts. Small acts of peace matter; each act accumulates into a larger sense of what is accepted, tolerated and enforced in communities around the globe. What we think dictates what we do, which is directly proportionate to what our communities gain.
Does the world you imagine have peace as its foundation? If it does not, today is the day to dare to dream that peace is possible and put it into action. Below are some suggestions to honor today and every day for peace:
• Start your day with minutes of meditation. Whether it is sitting in silence until you are completely relaxed or thinking happy thoughts, meditating will start your day with a conscience choice to be aware and responsible for managing your energy. The best time is any time, so if you have already gotten off to a hurried start today, pause somewhere in the day to reset your energy meter.
• Make up your mind to refuse to tolerate any form of violence. This can be tricky because we live in a world inundated with violence. Be kind to yourself and choose one form of violence that you vow to interject with love. Once you have one form of violence that you reject, you will begin to see other forms that you can address in your every day. Interjecting in violence requires some common sense safety precautions for where you are in the world, so proceed with caution, creativity and a lot of love. Write down your thoughts on violence and what you will not tolerate, study it and commit it to your heart. Such a small step begins the mind and heart transformation necessary to embark on greater peace.
• Refuse to use language that puts people down, is judgmental, promotes violence and aims to wound spirits. Think through each response you give to others. Fill your vocabulary with words that seek to understand another's view, uplift, respect and if need be respectfully disagree and positively assert your resistance. For example, to gain perspective of another's view, use "if I understand you correctly..." at the start of your sentence so that the person has an opportunity to clarify if necessary.
• Practice thinking the best of people. As humans, we all seek to fulfill basic needs day in and day out. If you start thinking that all people want the best and do the best that they can with what they have, know and feel, you will begin to see opportunities to respond in more peaceful ways to challenges. When you notice the opportunity, take it and repeat the bullet above.
• Respect Mother Earth. Our resources on the planet are finite, but our reverence for the space we occupy on the planet should be unlimited. Poisoning the Earth with unnecessary waste, over-production and pollution only comes back to bloat humanity with toxins in a vicious cycle. Live more sustainably as a conscious choice toward healthy human survival.
• Ban together with others to encourage peace as a network of solidarity. We are all responsible for the peace we seek. Besides, peace in numbers is much more fun than trying to go at it alone!
Here is a short list of networks that you can join to cultivate peace, regardless of your level of practice:
• EOTO World's People of Peace (POP) program - Our program is dedicated to helping you explore peace through live online sessions and practical activities for you to use in your life and community, no matter where you are in the world.
• Peace One Day's Global Truce 2012 campaign - Peace One Day has gathered a network of more than 4,000 people, institutions, and organizations to promote the mission of peace throughout the globe. The efforts culminate on today, the International Day of Peace, but will continue as a network long after.
• Earth Charter International- Earth Charter International focuses on sustainable development through an ethical framework known as the Earth Charter. The Earth Charter provides a comprehensive guide on how to live in ways that promotes peace, care for the Earth's resources and respect for humanity. The Earth Charter network connects and trains individuals around the world that use the Earth Charter in their lives.
• Peace Support Network - This website has a wealth of resources to engage in peace at all ages. You can create an account to network with others or use their free resources and links.
The suggestions and networks above are not exhaustive. If you are already successfully cultivating peace and have seen a change in your environment, feel free to share your tips and networks here to help others. If you have not yet started your journey for peace, dare to dream for peace and put it into action. Many around the world are striving for tangible peace that shows up every day in their immediate environments and you can too.