The International Day of Peace, which is observed each year on 21 September, holds extra significance in 2017.
The theme this year is ‘Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.’
With war and conflict in many parts of the world leading to millions becoming refugees, this theme will resonate everywhere.
In Myanmar, the atrocities being committed against the Muslim Rohingya; in Syria, the millions of people displaced from their homes within the country or seeking refuge in neighbouring or far-away countries. The list goes on.
Commenting on the Day, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, says: “In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats. We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbours as ‘the other’. Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people — and societies — from achieving their full potential. Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope.”
The message is clear: we have more in common than that which divides us. It is time to accept and love one another, and especially those in desperate need, seeing past ethnicity, faith or status. We are one human family.
The Day aims to inspire solidarity with refugees and migrants and showcase the shared benefits of migration to economies and nations. Ultimately, it is about bringing people together.
In the UK, we understand that our strength lies in our multicultural, multi-faith society. Many of us are migrants or second or third generation immigrants. We live in a country which welcomes people of all cultures and faiths and acknowledges the benefits this brings.
But we all have a role to play. Practicing mindfulness, we can pay more attention to the present moment, to our own thoughts and feelings, and to their world around us, to aid our wellbeing and that of others.
To transform fear into hope, we must integrate and communicate with ‘the other’, building bridges and dialogue which in turn breeds understanding and acceptance.
It is important to understand our differences so that we can overcome them and realise we are truly one big family. This extends through different faiths to different cultures and also to migrants and refugees.
Together, we can work to promote respect, safety and dignity for refugees and migrants in order to counter the rise in xenophobia and discrimination. And it starts with us, right here in our communities, and branches out to showing solidarity with people around the world who are being forced to flee their homes and their homelands.
Find out how you can get involved by clicking here.
The future is in our hands. We wish you a blessed International Day of Peace.