Peace day was the 21st of September, and United Nations day is the 24th of October. Both are celebrated around the world with celebrations by those who are concerned about our species well being and future. No one can deny that the pride of nations and the pride of religions has recently catapulted us into divisions and violence that cry out for new ways to resolve these problems and actually reach world peace.
Peace, of course, begins within each of us. It then moves out into families, communities, states, nations and the world. Everyone talks about peace, but no one does very much to advance it. One thing that is now being done on the local level is to develop peace curriculums for schools that can teach the students about nuclear threats, international understanding, communication, conflict management, democracy, human rights, tolerance, coexistence, gender equality, world citizenship and sometimes even inner harmony. Where peace education has been tried, both students and teachers have been most enthusiastic, and they’ve reported a drop in student fighting and violence.
Still, everyone from Woodrow Wilson to Albert Einstein has said that the only way that peace among nations and religions will be found is through a representative, democratic, world government that can address and control their violence. The League of Nations was begun after the First World War, and the United Nations was started after the Second World War, but neither of these valuable institutions was ever given the strength or authority to actually stop wars.
Today, the United Nation’s Security Council unfortunately allows for the powerful nations of the world to veto any of its proposals. This has meant that essentially nothing has been done to stop religious groups or nations from invading other countries or waging war. No nation is presently willing to give up enough of its sovereignty to allow for a world government to function and honestly search for peace. This means that unchecked violence and war has, and will, continue.
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However this does not take away from all of the amazing ways that the United Nations now offers opportunities for nations to interact, debate and encourage peace. The U.N. has also created hundreds of humanitarian agencies that are even more amazing in their ability to relieve suffering and address human need around the world.
What all of this means is that on United Nations day, we should all celebrate, support and encourage the United Nations, but we should also work to find new ways to work for peace and justice. Both Peace day and UN day celebrate the unity that is vital to our species’ future. In these days of conflict in such places as Crimea and Ukraine, the East Bank and Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Hong Kong, or even the worldwide threat of Ebola, wouldn’t it be nice if we had some way to address these problems through a unified world body, instead of a few nations spasmodically stepping in to often just make matters worse? In other words, when will we stop talking about world peace and actually start doing something about it?
The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.