Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.
In 2021, as we heal from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are inspired to think creatively and collectively about how to help everyone recover better, how to build resilience, and how to transform our world into one that is more equal, more just, equitable, inclusive, sustainable, and healthier.
The pandemic is known for hitting the underprivileged and marginalized groups the hardest. By April 2021, over 687 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 100 countries have not received a single dose. People caught in conflict are especially vulnerable in terms of lack of access to healthcare.
The pandemic has been accompanied by a surge in stigma, discrimination, and hatred, which only cost more lives instead of saving them: the virus attacks all without caring about where we are from or what we believe in. Confronting this common enemy of humankind, we must be reminded that we are not each other’s enemy. To be able to recover from the devastation of the pandemic, we must make peace with one another.
And we must make peace with nature. Despite the travel restrictions and economic shutdowns, climate change is not on pause. What we need is a green and sustainable global economy that produces jobs, reduces emissions, and builds resilience to climate impacts.
The 2021 theme for the International Day of Peace is “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world”. We invite you to join the efforts of the United Nations family as we focus on recovering better for a more equitable and peaceful world. Celebrate peace by standing up against acts of hate online and offline, and by spreading compassion, kindness, and hope in the face of the pandemic, and as we recover.
Paulo Coelho: Respect is the most important thing that we have
Paulo Coelho is an award-winning author from Brazil whose works have been translated into more than 65 languages. He serves as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, a UNESCO Special Counselor for Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences, and a member of “Network of Men Leaders” as part of the “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” campaign. On the International Day of Peace, he delivers a call for peace.
The dull-witted man runs about madly in pursuit of ‘peace of mind’; trying this prescription for some time and preferring another afterwards. He is on the wrong path; the path of catering to the senses, the path beset by form, name and quality, the path of the temporary and the apparent. But the seeker after liberation gets that peace quite easily. In fact, the real nature of man is equanimity – steadiness, unshakeable resolution, peace.
To get angry is but the effort of a moment; but, to get peace, to become unaffected by the ups and downs of life, is the result of years of training in Vedanta. It can be well established only on the basis of the belief that all material things within the range of sensuous experience are fundamentally non-existent. They are products of illusion, of the tendency to see many where only One exists.
When you get a parcel by post, what do you do? You remove the packing and take out the article sent, don’t you? Take away the packing and secure the thing of value. You say, “For me peace is required”. Remove the packing on both sides of the thing you really want – ‘For me’ on one side (indicative of egoism) and ‘is required’ on the other side (indicative of desire, want, sense of incompleteness). Don’t have egoism and desire; you have Peace! It is the packaging that hinders the securing of the Reality. You attach more value to the husk, not the kernel.
Let the dull-witted man hug his delusion that happiness and peace can be secured through slavery to the senses. Those who know that the world is a mixture of truth and falsehood, and therefore a big conundrum or false, will leave off the outer attractions and concentrate on the inner joy of attachment to God. If you are declared “passed”, you have Peace; if you are declared “failed”, that too solves the problem for some little time and puts a stop to worry; but if your results are not announced but withheld (for it is not quite certain whether you have passed or failed), you suffer the maximum restlessness, is it not? So also, this world which is neither Truth nor Untruth (unreal) but false, breeds profuse disturbance in the mind. Non-attachment alone can grant undisturbed inner peace.
Peace is the best treasure, without which power, authority, fame and fortune are all dry and burdensome…. There can be no happiness without inner peace. To earn this peace and to be unshakeably established in it, man must develop steady practice and detachment. From birth to death, man is the slave of urges and hesitations. One must examine these, and rely more and more on those that lead him towards subjective joy rather than objective pleasure. Subjective joy can be acquired by harmony at home, mutual co-operation among the members of the family and community, acts of service to others and concern for the welfare and prosperity of the society in which one is living. Sri Sathya Sai Baba