Peace Day - September 21, 2008 - 15
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to establish a universal Peace Day? In my early childhood, I saw people doing very simple things – someone helping an elderly person across the street, catching rainwater for conservation, and planting gardens and sharing food with their neighbors because everyone was on rations. To me, these were practical acts of Peace. That was when I was four years old, and when the idea of a World Peace Day inspired me. The UN didn’t exist yet then, but if such an organization ever existed, I thought, this is where it needs to be established. Starting in 1961, as a university student in Washington, D.C., I began gathering students from different nations from both University and Graduate schools to talk about this idea of establishing a universal Peace Day. In the early 1960’s, with the assistance of Brindaban from India and Valentine Gammel from the diplomatic service, I began gathering international students together from different nations, planting the seed of this idea, and engaging in discussions with people from different perspectives on world issues - coming into what I called the Peace Council process.. These informal, ‘offrecord’ Peace Councils became so popular students would bring the ambassadors from their different countries. An ongoing commitment of these Peace Councils was that we would all work toward the establishment of a World Peace Day through the United Nations. So, seeds were planted in the early 60’s for a World Peace Day. I simply continued my commitment, working with colleagues who were linked with the United Nations and with the Diplomatic Service. One of them was my dear friend and colleague, Robert Muller, who at the time was Assistant Secretary-General of the UN, Avon Mattison (right) with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and who now is also a Director Emeritus of Pathways To Peace. This idea and these seeds eventually came to fruition in 1981 with the establishment of The International Day of Peace by an unanimous Resolution of the United Nations. At the UN, there were many people involved with what is now known as the International Day of Peace. The truth is that any significant idea that is of benefit to humanity and the earth always has to arise from multiple people or multiple organizations within the consciousness of humanity. with Robert Muller, and with citizens and with NGO’s to begin building awareness of, and participation in, the International Day of Peace from its inception. PTP began working with the UN to establish an annual ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York which involved bringing the Peace Bell and the delivery of a special message by the Secretary-General on the International Day of Peace. In addition, PTP began working with NGO’s to inform them about this annual Peace Day, and to establish a celebration in the city where the UN was founded – San Francisco. Since the Preamble of the UN Charter begins with “We The Peoples…,” PTP realized that UN cannot be asked to do what citizens are not willing to do. Thus, PTP convening Peace Councils In San Francisco. We brought together representative of different sectors/pathways of society, including diverse religions, NGOs, government agencies, schools, etc. We began a series of monthly convenings to work together, acting in concert to plan an event for Peace Day. We worked for one year to put on something that was intergenerational, intercultural and, when, appropriate interfaith, that would benefit the larger community – in keeping with the resolution establishing the International Day of Peace. www.worldpeaceemerging.com By 1984, there were citizens of over 60 nations around the world who joined the citizens of San Francisco and with the United Nations in observing Peace Day in their own way. It was the first unanimous resolution ever passed by the UN General Assembly that created a day that was completely focused around Peace. The language of the resolution is very inspiring. The original is so brilliant, it’s universal and timeless. But when it was established it went unnoticed -- even by the UN. Pathways To Peace (PTP) began working with the Office of the Secretary-General and 15
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