By Sr. Anne Martin Phelan, OSF
The Sisters of St. Francis Center for Active Nonviolence and Peacemaking invite you to walk with us at the Stop the Hate/Show the Love Walk on Thursday, Sept. 19, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Clinton Community College and ending at Ashford University with a short program. This annual walk is a wonderful way to come together as a community and be a presence of love and peace.
We also invite you to celebrate the International Day of Peace with us at a vigil on Friday, Sept. 20, at the Canticle Chapel, 843 13th Ave. N., Clinton. People from various religions, spiritual beliefs and backgrounds will take part in the daylong observance, starting at 8 a.m. All are welcome to attend, either for part of the day, or the entire day.
Each year, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on Sept. 21. Established in 1981 by resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with its opening session, the first Peace Day was observed in September 1982. It was declared as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
In 2002, the General Assembly by unanimous vote adopted resolution 55/282, permanently establishing Sept. 21 as an annual day of nonviolence and cease-fire. The United Nations invites all nations and people to honor a cessation of hostilities during the day, and to otherwise commemorate the day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.
“It is not enough to teach children how to read, write and count. Education has to cultivate mutual respect for others and the world in which we live, and help people forge more just, inclusive and peaceful societies,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The International Day of Peace offers an opportunity for the world to pause, reflect and consider how best to break the vicious cycle of violence that conflict creates. People are called upon — whether governments, parties to conflicts, religious institutions, community leaders, the media, academics, or civil society groups — to play their part. One way to observe the day is to hold or participate in a 24- hour spiritual vigil, “to encourage worldwide observations for peace and nonviolence in every house of worship and place of spiritual practice, by all religious and spiritually based groups and individuals, and by all men, women and children who seek peace in the world” (Idpvigil.com).
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 the U.N., 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” (international
Anyone anywhere can celebrate Peace Day. It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, sitting in silent meditation, or doing a good deed for someone you do not know. Or it can involve getting your co-workers, organization, community or government engaged in a large event. The impact of millions of people in all parts of the world, coming together for one day of peace, is immense, and does make a difference.
You can take this pledge, created by the Peace Alliance:
I pledge to be a voice for respect and acceptance, and to take action with others in my school, workplace, home, community or place of worship to create a more safe, accepting and inclusive environment. I will stay alert to all forms of hate speech and discrimination in my area and take steps to prevent and discourage these acts of hate. As part of my pledge, I commit to pay attention to my speech on a daily basis and to reflect on how my thoughts and words affect my actions and interactions with others.
Take every opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as impact the larger conflicts of our time. Imagine what a whole Day of Ceasefire, literally and figuratively, would mean to humankind. Imagine what a week, a year, a lifetime of a commitment to peace would mean for each of us. Let’s make it a reality.
(Sr. Anne Martin Phelan is president of the Sisters of St. Francis of Clinton).