International Day of Peace: Is peace possible? Part One

Dr Sima Barmania

124929490 300x294 International Day of Peace: Is peace possible? Part OneSeptember 21st marks the annual international day of peace, honoured in the United Nations Headquarters in New York with the ringing of the iconic “peace bell” and a minute silence.  Proceedings are taking place worldwide to honour the significant day, including a weeklong series of events to mark the London week of peace 2011.

World peace day “provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date” but also to reflect on our own viewpoints and opinions that can be less optimistic during the remainder of the year.

Most people would argue that peace is preferable to war or violence, but how many believe it is actually possible?

Friend and colleague Dr Phil Smith, gastroenterologist at University College London Hospital was prompt to offer his negative affirmation. In his strong, vibrant, Manchester accent he adamantly states: “No, peace will never be possible, because the world is full of nutters! “. Colloquialisms aside, his inference should not be simply negated or disregarded, as it was not said in jest, but said with conviction and most likely, a view shared by many.

Encouragingly, Tony Jenkins, education director of the National Peace Academy in the United States, has a far less jaundiced outlook :

“Yes – of course, I think peace is possible.  It depends on how we define it and how we educate for it.  It by no means is a utopia”.

“There are indeed a “lot of nutters” out there – but a significant part of their attitudes have been shaped by culture, education, and other socializing processes.  Peace education – and how we facilitate it – plays a big role”.

Educating for peace is a central tenet to Jenkins, who is also coordinator of the Global Campaign for Peace Education which seeks to cultivate a culture of peace by mobilising public awareness and “political support for the introduction of peace education into all spheres of education….and by also “promoting the education of all teachers to teach for peace”.

Nevertheless, parts of the “socializing processes” which Jenkins refers to are fashioned, intentionally or otherwise, by the media.

In a recent appearance on the BBC’s Question Time, play right Bonnie Greer succinctly articulated a frustrating sentiment that many of us have felt for a while:

“We have created a world which is against or for, there is no middle ground”.

Explaining further:

“We never ever hear of people in Israel working for peace; we never ever hear from people in Palestine working for peace, it’s the other side who get the publicity”. Vociferously arguing that “there are people who want to talk but they don’t get the airtime.”

The reality is that often the voices heard are those that are the most polemic and controversial, the most extreme of the spectrum, which constitutes an opportunity for career opportunism and notoriety.

“Air time” is not granted to those individuals, groups or organisations who are humbly working towards peace, their narratives are simply not heard.

Thus, perhaps, on World Peace Day we should draw attention to those who are contributing towards peace, not for just one day, but every day.

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  • Helen Oppenheimer

    Here is a beautiful video honoring the International Day of Peace with the words of St. Francis of Asssi :

  • Firozali A.Mulla

    Dr. Seema or Sime. It is poosible but read on. Please. I hate politics and politicians. I don’t understand this rationale at all. The Palestinians are not saying they won’t return to negotiations, in fact they have stated several times that they want to continue negotiating after this meeting of the General Assembly. It seems to me the whole point of Israel and the U.S. making such a big fuss about this is about legitimacy, specifically denying legitimacy of statehood to the Palestinians. There is nothing else really at stake for either party here I thank you Firozali A.Mulla DBA

  • alanpaul1

    actually since the Oslo accords (Rabin/Arafat/Clinton) the parties committed themselves to bilateral negotiations…..and it is Mr Abbas who, for the last couple of years, is the one playing hard ball and not wanting to talk. (For avoidance of doubt I do accept that he has grounds to play some hardball—-but there is a world of difference between hardball and downright refusal. On the other side it is also a truism that Netanyahu has a habit of playing only to his domestic audience and that too generates its own set of problems.
    so if Mr Abbas were truly up for peace he would insist on seeing Mr N this week in NY at the UN…..but sadly it appears he is not up for that…..
    The USA is well aware of what Israel and Palestinians signed up for ie bilateral negotiations….just a shame that most other countries in UN will ignore that contractual commitment later this week!

  • Thomas

    More entertainment and lies.

    Obama the liar couldn’t give a toss about peace. Obama talking about peace is like Jack the Ripper talking about peace.
    With so many in Congress now working on behalf of Israel – rather than the American people – it’s like taking sweets from a baby….

    The world’s biggest terrorist state the US has no interest in peace and causes wars and has killed more people in recent times than anyone else.

  • silver749

    Brave writings but one does only here what the USA wants for peace, what the israeli’s want is their law much like shia law. Notice also the USA and israeli have advanced weapons ready to threaten and without this taken away they do what they want, use force against the weaker countries like vietnam iraq etc exactly like popeye and pluto. Domination as a way of life is never talked about. 

  • Caron

    Israeli law has nothing to do with Sharia Law. A barbaric islamic form of social fascism.
    Vietnam having wages a war against its own people to impose communism has now failed and it returns to free market capitalism.

  • Caron

    Exaggeration I am sure Obama would love peace. The USA and Israel are a lot more open and just than Iran North Korea China or Russia.

  • Lemon Lemonovy

    U.N – those who spill tons of blood every day in the name of peace .

  • SmileyPip

    This article was not referring to specific wars or conflicts, but merely used a statement by a famous commentator which used a particular conflict as an example to demonstrate her point.  Her point is valid.  Peace is never given publicity. But war and conflict is.  Apart from the Chilean Miner rescue last year, I cannot remember many stories where love, human spirit and respect for human life was celebrated across the world.  But of course, this is the world we live in….therefore, although I am sure (like all those quoted in this article) everyone would like peace in the world, I think Dr Phil Smith is right,”there will never be world peace unfortuantely, as there are too many nutters in the world”.

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