International Day of Peace: A Conscious Act of Courage

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. “ 

                                                Mother Teresa

As the International Day of Peace is upon us, I see a world on fire and wondering why we can’t seem to get it right?  Does not the rest of the world’s heartache to see the children starve and die or see men roar and cheer over the death of another? Why is it we can’t see that the plight of the least among us, is our plight too? Can this divisiveness be overcome and if so, where do we begin?

A Brief History

The International Day of Peace, as declared by the United Nations, was first celebrated in September of 1982.  This was to be a reminder to the entire world that the UN was an organization committed to peace above all else.  In 1999, a British Documentary Filmmaker Jeremy Gilley, founded Peace One Day and wanted to expand and reaffirm International Day of Peace.  Through his documentary of the same name, Gilley was able to get a resolution passed by the UN to declare September 21st, not only as International Day of Peace, but to make it a global cease fire and non-violence day.  Since the resolution in 2001, it has been a day that has allowed many life saving organizations to go into war torn areas and delivery food, supplies and life saving vaccines without the threat of harm.  This year also includes another global campaign called Global Truce 2012, where organizers hope to see the largest reduction in global violence ever recorded in history.  

Can Peace Be Born Out of Mutual Threat of Violence?

Much of our current thinking believes that the best way to ensure peace is to use the threat of violence, but the mere absence of violence, is not peace.  This hegemonistic approach seems to create an underlying sense of fear, leading us to believe that we are just one step away from global war and/or annihilation.   These fear based conditions, make it easier for us to justify human rights violations and preemptive actions. This feeds into our sense of scarcity and the us versus them mentality.

Red vs. Blue: Setting a Poor Example

Here in the United States, we are embroiled in this mentality as we approach the November election.  As someone who reads many political forums, it is frustrating how easily we can get caught up in stereotypes.  Constructive debate is healthy for a nation and a sign of a democracy, but the vehement, harmful rhetoric I hear from both sides, makes me feel that we have lost sight of what it important.  We are on the same team. We need to step back from the media, the pundits and the rhetoric and decide does this serve our country? Stepping out of the egoic mind, could we find  common ground?  To be diametrically opposed to something just because it comes from the other side or to take an obstructionist stand, just for the sake of obstructing, doesn’t serve the individual or the greater good.  We are a country and if we really engaged with one another, we would see that we have more similarities than differences.  How can we aspire to a peaceful world, when there is no peace at home?  As with all things, change has to begin in our own back yard and more accurately, in our own hearts.

Getting Off the Dichotomy Roller-Coaster

Peace is a state of harmony that occurs when there is balance, a sense of wholeness.  This is a true shift from competition to cooperation.  Global balance can only be achieved when we can contemplate our oneness as a world.  That means that each one of us has the responsibility to spend time in solitude; cultivating mindfulness, cultivating compassion and then going out into the world with that state of being.  This is not a responsibility passed down by government, but it is our duty as a spiritual being.  It is this simple act that breeds cooperation, empathy and promotes collaboration.  Harmony literally means to fit together, to join.  Peace then, is coming into resonance.  An agreement that appreciates our differences, but acknowledges that the blending of ourselves creates something far greater than any one nation or individual could do alone.  We can't change the actions of other people, but we can change our own.

I am often criticized for being an Idealist, when I should be a Realist. If being a Realist means I have to accept war and human rights violations as inevitable, then I want no part of that.  I will wear that badge proudly, for I can know there are alternatives.  People like Jeremy Gilley, could see a better world and has done more than just imagine, he acted and evoked change.  His actions made a difference in millions of lives.  So on this International Day of Peace, I will sit in gratitude for all of those that came before me; the idealists, the dreamers and for the courage it took to know, it can be different.

Angela Levesque is an exercise physiologist, mind/body educator and energy healer.  She hosts a weekly online radio show called On Health & Healing on and teaches several classes on self care for chronic illness. Visit for more information.  Follow her on

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