September 21 is the International Day of Peace, or World Peace Day. For 34 years, this day has been observed as a time for everyone to reflect on what peace means to them. Started by the United Nations, or UN, it is also a time for world leaders to be reminded of the importance of looking for peaceful solutions to conflicts. As well as for everyday people to think of ways to make the planet a more welcoming and safe home for all of us.
A peaceful beginning to the season
The very first International Day of Peace was celebrated on Tuesday, September 21, 1982. Originally, the holiday was to fall on the third Tuesday of every September. Why? Because that was when the annual sessions of the General Assembly of the UN started each year. And what better way to kick off the largest gathering of world representatives on Earth than with a reminder that they're all there to spread love, compassion, and understanding?
Since 2001, the date has been celebrated every September 21, but the message has stayed the consistent. If anything, it's been strengthened. In 2013, the UN's Secretary-General (essentially its leader), Ban Ki-moon proposed that World Peace Day focus on peace education. This can mean a lot of things, but above all, it is about teaching people about the importance of peaceful conflict resolution.
There's got to be a better way than fighting
Conflict resolution is basically just ways to solve a large disagreement between two or more groups. These "groups" can be all sorts of things: countries, tribes, political parties. And the "resolution" can be a lot of things, too. But too often, it turns into a battle or a war. Peace education is about reminding people that there is always a better way to solve a problem between groups than with armies and war. And events during the day work to educate people how just how they can reach out to people they might believe are enemies.
Though war is still a part of this world, you currently live in the greatest age of peace in the modern history of humanity. Far more countries living respectfully with each other than ever before. In other words: peace works! And is working right now.
What does peace mean to you?
Happy World Peace Day, everyone!