On September 21st, we will recognize the International Day of Peace, also referred to as Peace Day. Peace Day was started in 1981 by a unanimous United Nations resolution as a standard date for all of us across the planet to reflect and recommit to peace above all differences.
I like that statement: peace above all differences.
Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing? You have heard it said many times before that we all don’t have to agree, but what if we tried our hardest to commit to peace ahead of everything else.
As with many national and global observances, this day is designed to bring our focus back inward -to refocus on ourselves and what we can do to achieve peace above all differences.
This is a practice we should commit to every day.
Every day we should all be working to bring about a culture of peace. This year, the 2020 Peace Day theme is to celebrate this day by spreading compassion, kindness, and hope in the face of a worldwide pandemic. There are many ways to spread the word about Peace Day and many things you can do to plant seeds of kindness in your corner of the world. Seeds that will live on beyond you and sprout fruitful actions will inspire others to do the same.
Peace does not have to be a march or sign, although those things can be helpful. You can look for ways to promote compassion and hope in every area of your life: in social justice, the environment, health initiatives, and even in the world of sports and the arts. There are so many different types of actions you can take that will brighten someone’s day, and they will, in turn, brighten the day of someone else. It’s called a ripple effect. You throw a stone in the water, but the ripples (results) keep going long after the stone has disappeared.
Ask yourself, do you want your ripples to be harmful? Or ones that inspire?
A couple of years ago, it seemed to me that politics in the United States of America had gotten worse than I have ever seen it in my lifetime. I used to love to watch the news. Now I can barely stand it. I turned off the television, which felt at that moment more like a siren than people talking. I sat at the end of my bed, and I prayed for guidance.
How can I help?
What can I do?
What difference can I make to make this world just a little bit better?
The Birth of a Diverse Picture Book about Peace
This poem came to me that became a book I wrote about peace titled This is The Earth.
The vision was of One Big Planet that is really just One Big House that all humans share. This One Big Planet is home to each and every one of us. Our homes are more like apartments in this one big house and we are just one big family.
It really is true.
Have you ever been sitting somewhere and when you see someone approaching you and you think, “Oh God, please don’t sit by me, please don’t sit by me, please don’t sit by me?” I am being honest here.
The person approaching looks like someone from whom you could not be more different.
They sit by you anyway. And then they start talking. And five minutes later they get up and you think, wow, I am so very glad I got to meet that person.
This is because we have so much more in common than not.
We are all human beings.
We all have the same basic needs.
We all cry.
We all laugh.
We all want to belong.
We all love what we love.
Carry this knowledge with you as you go out into the world and know that we all want to be better every day. Some of us don’t know how to.
Here are some ideas, and I hope you will share them, especially those who don’t know how to.
- Make eye contact with people when it is safe to do so and smile. You may be the only person who acknowledges them all day long.
- Greet little kids when their parents are around and tell them they “sure do look smart!” You may be the only one who tells them this.
- Volunteer where you can, when you can. This does not have to be an every weekend thing. Sometimes people need you one time for a few hours. We can all do that.
- Assume the best in people. They call car accidents- accidents for a reason. So if someone cuts you off in traffic or accidentally drifts into your lane, say a little wish of hope for them. Take a moment and give thanks that today we are alive and well, and wish them well.
- Buy books about peace and donate them to daycares, hospitals, foster care agencies, and homeless shelters. Just give away books! Children love books, and they need to absorb these messages whenever and wherever they can. As an in-home therapist, I have visited many homes where there were absolutely no books. Your gift may be the only book they ever receive.
- Plant a tree.
- Find an older person to grocery shop for.
- Write a letter to thank someone who did something kind for you. You don’t have to go into much detail. Sometimes, when we think about the facts, it stops us from doing it. We are all busy, and we believe we don’t have time, but we do. Just grab a postcard and write, “I was just thinking about how kind you were to me, and I just wanted to say thank you- you made my day!”
- Pick up the phone. Call someone whom you know has been down and listen. That’s it. No pressure. Just listen. Tell them, “I have no idea what to do or say, but I am here.” And then listen.
- When all else fails, bake something! Baking is relatively inexpensive and typically does not consume much time. You can make a batch of muffins for under five bucks and then give them all away. Just think if we all did this. What a magical muffin-filled peaceful planet we would have.
I would be honored for you to check out the book This is The Earth.
Until September 30, anyone wanting to add This is the Earth to their bookshelf, or wanting to gift one to a special home, classroom, or organization, will enjoy a special discount AND free shipping by using SAVE20 at checkout!
Peace is a language and our children, for the most part, are not learning this language.
We do not know how to disagree with each other without being at odds. We are, as a whole, not very good listeners. We do not have to be right all the time. Hold on to this and spread this message around.
Here is to another year of recommitting to doing our part to spread hope, compassion, and peace to as many other souls as we can.
Other Ways to Celebrate International Day of Peace
You can also find events celebrating this day near you on this handy map if you’d liked to search out other ideas:
Check out this free downloadable Shaping Peace Together poster!
And there is a one-page handout with ideas for how to help here:
Go forth and spread Peace!