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International Day of Peace - Some Thoughts and Quotes
Peace Begins Within
Mans greatest blunder has been in trying to make peace with the skies instead of making peace with his neighbours.
~ Elbert Hubbard
Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
~ Martin Luther King
September 21st is International Peace Day. There has been an International Peace Day since 1982. I’ve chosen these quotes to share, because they express the way I aspire to live, even if I don’t always manage it. We don’t get peace by creating war; we don’t end terror by killing terrorists. Peace begins within us, and we can only ever spread peace when we are peaceful.
Here are some more quotes from some great peacemakers of our times, and of the recent past.
“I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.”
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
“Man's goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.”
“Hate the sin, love the sinner.”
“Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”
“No one has ever been angry at another human being - we're only angry at our story of them.”
“A teacher of fear can’t bring peace on Earth. The person who turns inner violence around, the person who finds peace inside and lives it, is the one who teaches what true peace is.”
Be the change you seek…
What all of these people are saying is that world peace will only come when we are willing to look inside, when we are willing to take responsibility for our own feelings of anger, fear and anything else that is not peace. I don’t always find it easy to do that, but I find it a lot harder not to.
It’s also important to notice that there is a huge difference between responsibility and blame. If I say something in anger that I later regret, the responsible thing to do is to look inside and find the belief that led me to say what I did, to notice that I was believing something that was not true, and let it go. I am then free to apologize without anticipating punishment or even needing my apology to be accepted. The "blaming" thing to do would be to call myself stupid, a selfish pig, a horrible person, and to vow I will never let myself do anything so terrible ever again. Not very peaceful or forgiving, and not likely to lead to lasting change. Remember the Gandhi quote: “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”
There are many ways we can look inside and allow peace to spread within us. Two of my favourite methods are to use the Work of Byron Katie to question the beliefs that would keep me from feeling peace, and to use the Sedona Method to welcome uncomfortable feelings and allow them to release.
It might seem that we need to take big action to make a change in our world, but small actions radiate outward. As we become more peaceful inside, so we spread that to those around us.
One of my favourite stories is the old woman and the starfish. I don’t know if this story is true or not, or even where it originates. As the story goes, an old woman is on a beach where many starfish have been thrown upon the sand by a freak wave. She is picking starfish up, one by one, and throwing them back into the sea. A young man comes past and mocks her, saying she’s wasting her time, there are so many stranded starfish she can’t possibly make a difference. She replies, “I’m making a difference to this one.”
When we offer peace to just one person we are contributing to world peace.
If They Can Do It…so can we
Peace events around the world.
International Peace Day was set up by the United Nations, and on their website is a map which lists events occurring around the world to mark the day.
Here are some examples of the type of events that happen around the world:
At RioCentro, Convention Center in Brazil world leaders and NGOs meet to find ways to reduce poverty, improve social equity and environmental protection.
In Richmond Virginia, USA there are interfaith prayers for peace, along with a dances for peace and a Peace Pole Planting Ceremony with music and food.
In Santa Rosa de Pocosol, San Carlos, Costa Rica there is an annual Culture of Peace Festival.
In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, there is a concert for peace.
In 2011, at Cairo train station in Egypt, the organization Master Peace held its launch.