Thanks to a lovely post by fellow blogger Rose Vettleson yesterday entitled Peace, Hope, and Coincidences and a Facebook post by another friend (thanks, Shelley), I’ve discovered this week that September 21 is not only the first day of fall, my favourite season, but UN-sanctioned World Peace Day and also World Gratitude Day. You won’t be surprised to learn that the intent of both these designated days resonate strongly with me, but the sorry contradiction in the UN proclaiming such a noble day such as World Peace Day and then having the very same UN – in other words the world’s leaders – be so impotent at bringing about world peace is all too apparent.
This very week of UN-proclaimed World Peace Day the world’s leaders are gathered at the United Nations to discuss the war in Ukraine, with little expectation of any peace in the near or mid future. Ukrainians whose lives have been shattered, along with their homes and infrastructure, have little to feel grateful for, joining the list of many other displaced and dispossessed populations around the world. And the very day that World Peace Day was being proclaimed by the UN, Vladimir Putin called up (at least) 300,000 reservists so he could keep pummeling a neighbouring sovereign country.
The reality: Mariupol, Ukraine after Russian invasion
This is the official statement from the UN in proclaiming this year’s World Peace Day:
Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.
But achieving true peace entails much more than laying down arms. It requires the building of societies where all members feel that they can flourish. It involves creating a world in which people are treated equally, regardless of their race.
As Secretary-General António Guterres has said:
“Racism continues to poison institutions, social structures, and everyday life in every society. It continues to be a driver of persistent inequality. And it continues to deny people their fundamental human rights. It destabilizes societies, undermines democracies, erodes the legitimacy of governments, and… the linkages between racism and gender inequality are unmistakable.”
As conflicts continue to erupt across the globe, causing people to flee, we have seen race-based discrimination at borders. As COVID-19 keeps attacking our communities, we have seen how certain racial groups have been hit much harder than others. As economies suffer, we have seen hate speech and violence directed at racial minorities.
We all have a role to play in fostering peace. And tackling racism is a crucial way to contribute.
We can work to dismantle the structures that entrench racism in our midst. We can support movements for equality and human rights everywhere. We can speak out against hate speech – both offline and online. We can promote anti-racism through education and reparatory justice.
The 2022 theme for the International Day of Peace is “End racism. Build peace.” We invite you to join the efforts of the United Nations as we work towards a world free of racism and racial discrimination. A world where compassion and empathy overcome suspicion and hatred. A world that we can truly be proud of.
Such noble sentiments. But it appears that tribalism, bolstered by self-serving and often cruel quests for power, keeps getting in the way.
World Gratitude Day was established at an international gathering in Hawaii way back in 1965. It’s another lofty idea, kind of like having a Thanksgiving Day that everyone around the world can celebrate together, on the same day. It can never, ever hurt to be thankful; the more days the better. Finding something you are grateful for every single day is one of the best known tonics for happiness. Unfortunately, without social media I’m not sure how many people would know about World Gratitude Day. Personally, I’ve always been grateful for the beginning of fall, even when I didn’t know September 21 was also World Gratitude Day!
On a lighter note, apparently September 21 is also National Miniature Golf Day, National Pecan Cookie Day, Escapology Day, National Chai Day, and more. There’s a Day for everything. [For example, today, September 24, is International Lace Day and National Hunting and Fishing Day!]
As for me, aside from being grateful for fall (except for when hurricanes hit), I’m also grateful that at least there is a World Peace Day. Maybe … someday … we will have “a world where compassion and empathy overcome suspicion and hatred. A world that we can truly be proud of.”