After our Remembrance Day reflections of a couple of weeks ago, we took time in our assembly recently to think about how we can all work for peace in our world. I have just come across the global event that is called ‘Peace One Day’ which is held annually on 21st September. The campaign is recognised by the UN and has grown in popularity since its conception in 1999. A couple of years ago, it was believed that 709 million people were aware of Peace One Day around the globe.
The man behind the whole idea was the actor and film-maker Jeremy Gilley. He had the desire and vision to have one day of the year where people all around the world worked for peace and where everyone behaved more peacefully towards each other. He made a film to highlight his dream.
As you will see he got the support of Jude Law as an ambassador. Is peace ever possible? Is the idea of ‘Peace One Day’ an impossibility? I sincerely hope not, but times are challenging. It is at this point that I reminded the children of the story of the Starfish which can perhaps help us here:
An old man walked along a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm.
A young girl was picking them up and flinging then back in the ocean.
‘Why do you bother?’ the old man asked. ‘You’re not saving enough to make a difference.’
The young girl picked up another starfish, sent it spinning back to the water and said, ‘It made a difference to that one.’
This story teaches us that our small actions can make a difference. Many people around the world performing small acts CAN make a difference.
So - did the Peace One Day campaign achieve anything in Afghanistan?
Yes! According to the UN figures, on 21 September 2008, there was a 70 per cent reduction in violent incidents. This enabled teams of health workers to access children and administer vaccines against deadly diseases including polio, meningitis, diphtheria and tetanus. This simple act of having a day committed to peace resulted in actions that will have a lasting impact on the people of Afghanistan. Peace One Day continues to have similar effects in other areas of the world.
The great Mother Teresa said, ‘Peace begins with a smile.’ Could we commit to smile more at others to support that move towards greater peace in the world?