World Peace Day was established by a unanimous United Nations resolution in 1981, a day for all of humanity to commit to building a global culture of peace, freedom from violence, a unity that transcends our differences. Several international declarations on the right to peace had followed, the most recent one in 2016 – named as a landmark proclamation. These declaratory resolutions by world leaders are seemingly eutopian, envisioning and pledging to create a place of global well-being. And yet, who knows about these statements and how do they affect our individual lives? All the ills of the human condition – wars, displacement, poverty, trauma, turmoil and alienation, to name a few – continue.
Can we nevertheless co-create the Eutopia? What does that entail? While international proclamations may seem abstract words on screen or paper, decided among state officials, they come alive when we breathe meaning into them, when we know, share, embody and practice their essential and visionary truths. Eleanor Roosevelt said in regards to human rights that “without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
In this talk and dialogue, we will first consider what are the “rights to peace” as declared by international precepts. What weight do they have? We’ll discuss how insights from various disciplines and practices, psychology in particular, can add to the advancement of the rights to peace. Most importantly, what can people around the world, all of us fellow citizens, do to bring these words to life? Rather than simply relying on representatives and institutions, we can hold conversations about what these values mean to us, and make them work in the everyday experience – in our communities, in our online presence, and in the systems that we are ultimately responsible for creating and re-creating. This means that peace must be considered as more than just absence of war, but a culture of wholeness where interdependent human rights, the ones we know and the ones that are evolving, are applied holistically.
Finally, as we near World Peace Day on September 21st, with the 2020 theme of “Shaping Peace Together”, we can reflect on what initiatives like the Caravan of Unity teach us, what are some of the key takeaways that relate to the rights to peace more broadly, and what sets us towards a better way of being, a new vision and new story that we are co-creating.