Nazareth, Teaching, World

International Day of Peace

September 21.

Once there was a man who decided to make a change in the world. “When you build a house, you begin with one brick, so why not start with one person to build peace?” Peace One Day.

The UN meets every year at this time. One September afternoon, six years ago, Jeremy Gilley decided to work towards establishing a day of peace which would be put on the international calendar, also coinciding with this annual meeting. An attmept in creating a cease fire day, a day in which all wars stop, all fighting ceases and basically “everyone just gets along.” Would it be possible? Could there really be one day without violence?

We read about Iraqi’s killed daily from the war in Iraq. Conflict in Africa. Israel-Palestine. People are murdered and assaulted daily. All over the world. How many lives would be saved in one day, if there was a complete world cease fire? But even more than that, what kind of global unity would be created by individuals around the world striving to reckognize a day of peace? What kind of humanity would surround us if people decided not to pull that trigger or detonate that bomb? Of course, it seems impossible to do. But one person, Jeremy Gilley, started this journey in 1999. After four years, and a lot of obstacles, he was able to get the UN International Day of Peace on the calendar. He spent these years writing to world leaders and visiting war torn places to make his vision of Peace One Day become a reality. Now there are indiviudals all over that world that come together to celebrate peace and remind us that we too can contribute to living in a peaceful world.

I was first introduced to Jeremy Gilley and his Peace One Day project while Ali and I were in Nazareth. We went to a screening at Kapt to see his documentary, Peace One Day. The film is in essence his journey to establish the UN Peace Day. It begins with a bloody scene of violence. Kicking. Punching. Dragging. Guns. At my current school, I have been working on a school-wide event to reckognize Peace Day. The Middle Years classes would be viewing the film, as well as inviting parents. I spoke with one of the teachers this morning. He told me that he would be editing the intro out of the screening. He teaches teenagers. I understood that portions of the film had to be edited due to time constraints. However, I personally found the short violent scenes very powerful. I recalled these scenes and felt they created a sense of need for a day of peace. This violence is reality. Why must we shelter the adolescents while children all over the world live in fear each day from such atrocities?

When I shared the book of Jeremy Gilley’s journey with my PY1 class (aged 6/7), they made several connections with what we saw in the pictures to what they have seen on television. Violence is everywhere. There are no boundaries. Children are not spared because they are children. I can hardly count the instances when I was in Nazareth reading about teenage boys being shot by snipers in Gaza. Why should we edit life? Because we are lucky enough to not have to live it in such a way?

Another one of the other teachers that teaches PY2 (aged 8/9), went through the same book and discussed children in war. How they survive. What their lives are like. Their responses were similar to mine when I first arrived in Nazareth “Why can’t we all just get along?” Brilliant. Simple. Unattainable.

Today is a day of remembrance for all those that have lost their lives in acts of violence. It is a day to do something peaceful and remember that one person can make a difference. “All sectors of society are being asked to honour and celebrate the Day on the 21 September. The vision of the Day extends far beyond the cessation of violent conflict and represents an opportunity for individuals to join in a moment of global unity.”