|UN Day of Peace 2012 Commemorated in 31 Nations|
|UN Day of Peace 2012 Commemorated in 31 Nations|
|Inspired by the theme "Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future"
for the 2012 observances of the UN International Day of Peace, UPF
chapters in 30 nations organized programs ranging from academic forums
to interreligious ceremonies to poetry contests. They engaged youth in
promoting a culture of peace through service, sports, music, dance,
crafts, and public information campaigns. For details about events in
Some of the most passionate speakers came from conflict zones. H.E. Roman Kirn, Ambassador of Slovenia to the United States, recalled the genocide in the former Yugoslavia. He appealed to not only the audience in Washington DC but also the entire global community to "protect the people and save peace." At the program in Madrid, Professor Emilio Asti from the University of Milan in Italy called the Mediterranean zone with its remarkable migratory and cultural flows a "compendium of the great questions facing the world." He envisions a free circulation of people and ideas between the northern and southern shores enabling people of different religions and backgrounds to live in peace and prosperity centered on shared spiritual values.
One year ago on the International Day of Peace, a national Interreligious Peace Council was formed in Thailand. The council has been addressing issues of terrorism by Muslim separatists in the southern region of this predominately Buddhist nation. The vision is taking root elsewhere. For example, in Australia, this year's International Day of Peace observance focused on prospects for forming an interreligious peace council in this increasingly diverse nation.
Academic discussions took place at universities in Australia, the Dominican Republic, and Georgia. Additional forums were held in the Czech Republic, Latvia, Moldova, the United States, and Zambia. Hon. Jaroslav Doubrava, a member of the Czech Senate, emphasized the value of human life. “War is always a bad solution,” he said, lamenting that much more money is invested in destruction rather than on improving living conditions.
Speakers on the International Day of Peace also emphasized peace within. "We need to know what it is to feel inner peace," said Mrs. Rute Cardoso, a therapist in Sao Paulo, Brazil. "Inner peace is our inner light and our best company, the most important knowledge that we can acquire."
Recognizing that religious people and their insights can make an important contribution to peace, UPF organizers included interreligious prayers, ceremonies, and forums at events in Brazil, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Nepal, and New Zealand. As is traditional for the International Day of Peace, many programs encouraged a moment of silent reflection. Attention was drawn to noted people who had dedicated their lives to peace, such as UPF Founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who had passed away on September 3.
To inspire young people with a vision of a world of peace and harmony, there were also classroom lessons, service projects, sports competitions, and cultural programs.
This year's focus on a sustainable future led to tree planting at a national park in Cambodia and Nepal as well as environmental clean-ups in Japan and Nepal. A Cambodian student, Kim Ratank, said, “Even though our contribution is small, it will be an encouragement for villagers.”
For organizers in Nepal, Russia, and Ukraine, the Day of Peace became an occasion to distribute food and gifts to the less fortunate. In Spain, the annual "Helping Your Neighbor" awards were presented to two community activists whose lives are devoted to service.
A culture of peace was promoted in a variety of other ways. For example, Football for Peace competitions brought together diverse groups of young people in Moscow and New Delhi. Students in Nepal competed in a speech contest on "Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future." The program in Tokyo featured stories by participants in an international service project in Nepal. One reported a memorable comment by an Afghan youth he had met there: “Peacebuilding begins when one can open his/her heart to digest others’ minds and embrace them.”
Music and dance helped create a harmonious atmosphere in places as diverse as Germany, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. Educational programs took place in schools in Estonia, Moldova, Ukraine, and many cities in Russia. Cards, doves, and messages of peace were distributed to the public in Israel and Russia. “We met people of different nationalities, faiths, and ages," reported Ksenya Kolpakova about UPF-Siberia's Give a Smile to the World Project. "Their smiles warmed our hearts."
The winners of an international poetry contest on the theme of "Words of Meeting and Universal Consciousness" were announced in Buenos Aires. In her prize-winning poem entitled "It is time now..." visionary Argentinian author Irma Droz invites people to "reach out to our friend to look each other in the eyes and offer our arms outstretched. It is time to lift our faces and see that dawn has finally arrived!"