By David Wick, President, Rotary E-Club of World Peace
As members of the Rotary E-Club of World Peace, we will be joining other members and people around the world in participating in the United Nations International Day of Peace on 21 September. It is fitting for us to do so and follow Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta in focusing on “Girls Empowerment and Peace” as a strategy to achieve our common goal. It’s also fitting because several of our members have been promoters of a Peace Day from the very beginning.
In the early 1960s, Avon Mattison (a member of our club) began conducting informal “peace councils” that would gather international students together from many nations in Washington D.C. These became so popular that students would bring along ambassadors from their countries, and eventually the U.S. State Department wanted to attend. One of the common purposes of these monthly peace councils was to work toward the establishment of a worldwide day of peace.
Rotary and Peace Day
Avon continued to push the idea through colleagues at the UN and diplomatic services. And as is fitting of such an important initiative, pressure for the idea also came from different people in many different parts of the world.
The realization of their dream came about in 1981, when the UN General Assembly passed a unanimous resolution establishing The International Day of Peace (Peace Day) to commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples. Avon, Joanie Ciardelli, Marilyn King, and I (all Rotary E-Club of World Peace members) have been a part of Pathways to Peace, working with the UN since the 1980s to increase awareness of and participation in Peace Day.
We organized the first large scale civil society Peace Day celebration on 18 September 1984 in San Francisco, the birthplace of the UN. This groundbreaking event also engaged citizens in 70 nations around the world, who joined the citizens of San Francisco in observing Peace Day in their own unique ways.
As a co-creator with a front row seat from the beginning, I have seen firsthand how Peace Day touches hearts, stirs imaginations, and guides actions. The growing event now inspires people of all ages and occupations. Its importance is in advancing a continual message of peace and concern for one another, communicated in ever-changing and creative ways.
Building peace, one project at a time
I feel honored to be a Rotary member and support the evolution of Peace Day. It is meant to be a time to “take stock” in and assess how we are doing in our peacebuilding initiatives as well as make plans for more impactful actions during the following year. I believe this underscores the reality that all of Rotary’s actions and initiative can be highlighted and celebrated in light of the global effort to create a more peaceful world.
As People of Action there are many ways we can make Peace Day a meaningful experience in our personal lives and at every level of Rotary. This year’s International Day of Peace theme, “Recovering better for a sustainable and equitable world” asks us to support healing from the COVID-19 pandemic. We are asked to “think creatively and collectively about how to help everyone recover better, how to build resilience, and how to transform our world into one that is more equal, more just, equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and healthier.”
Here are some examples of things we can do:
- Minute of Silence – Individuals, communities, families, and workplaces observe this global minute every day at noon in time zones across the world. Pause at noon each day to take a deep breath, meditate on, pray for, and envision peace. This “peace wave” is traveling around the world each day as a shared act of peacebuilding that all can participate in.
- “May Peace Prevail On Earth“– Include this universal statement at the beginning and end of your club meeting, event, or gathering. Add it to your voice messages.
- Gather around one of the thousands of Peace Poles that have been established in communities around the world or plant one yourself.
- Support President Shekhar Mehta’s presidential initiative of Empowering Girls and consider attending one of the presidential conferences.
- Develop a service project to protect the environment against climate change.
- Engage youth in peace-building activities.
- Participate in an intercultural and interfaith dialogue or workshops on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- Explore Peace Breathing, meditation, and prayer events.
- Organize an art event that highlights peace.
What action will you take?
Contact me If you’d like more information about ways you can observe International Day of Peace.