International Day of Peace: Is peace possible? Part One
September 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”.
“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.Tagged in: bonnie greer, international day of peace, israel, Palestine, united nations, violence, War
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