What do Jude Law and Angelina Jolie have in common other than their acting careers?
They are both avid supporters and proponents of Peace One Day. Do I have your attention now? Ok, good. Now, let’s take a step back.
Between constantly sporting peace symbol necklaces throughout my youth, minoring in Peace Studies as an undergrad, and circumnavigating the globe aboard the Peace Boat, you can say that the idea of peace is something I’ve consciously reflected upon throughout my life. I’ve taken a personal interest in the topic beyond the cliché beauty queen response of “world peace.”
Peace, though lauded as one of the ultimate principles of humanity, is hard to define consistently across groups. From the absence of war mentality to harmony, the conceptual framework behind this seemingly straightforward word is not so simple. My interest is not in a debate over meaning, but rather I want to invite you to think of how you define the idea of peace. What does it mean to you? To me, peace means a lot of things—from security to freedom to silence and harmony.
This past year I was lucky enough to hear about the amazing organization Peace One Day, founded by British actor turned filmmaker, Jeremy Gilley. Surprisingly, I had never heard of the organization before. After watching the hour film I was impressed and awed at the work being done (start here for a short clip). The organization’s objective is to institutionalize an annual day of global unity and intercultural cooperation: Peace Day, held on September 21st. Since the UN formally established the International Day of Peace in 2001, Peace One Day has not stopped advocating. On Peace Day in 2007 they were able to create a ceasefire in Afghanistan that provided polio vaccinations to 1.4 million children. From large charity concerts featuring Annie Lennox and Elton John, to broadcasting their feature documentary across the world, they are acting to create awareness for this national day of ceasefire and non-violence.
I encourage you (and your institution/organization) to join the 280 million other people (4% of the world’s population) who have become aware of this great initiative. I ask you to consider setting aside September 21st, Peace Day, as a day to reflect, reduce conflict if you can, and to make peace with someone in your life. This may seem a pretty simple request for some, and maybe a bit difficult for others depending on where you come from.
The team here at Melibee will be hosting several different events/activities in honor of Peace Day this year. In my current stomping grounds, Boston, we are planning a mindful meditation and yoga event centered on creating peace with ourselves and those around us. Stay tuned for an open invitation to join us in Boston, MA and several other cities around the world that will feature film showings and great dialogue (coming in August)!
In the meantime, check out the Student Coalition page of Peace One Day’s website, or the Student Coalition sign-up page if you’re interested in getting involved. There are many resources to support an event, big or small. Share your plans on their Peace Day Plans Form when you do!
Look forward to celebrating Peace Day 2013 with you wherever you may be!
About the Author: Ashley Houston is a very well traveled bee! After spending time in the the world of Higher Ed as an Academic Adviser, Ashley is completing her MA in Intercultural Relations at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.