‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.’ John 14:27
What do you understand by the word ‘peace’.
The Oxford English Dictionary lists various definitions for the word ‘peace’.
– One definition is ‘freedom from disturbance; tranquillity’. Can you use this definition of peace in a sentence. For example, ‘The teacher wanted to have a few minutes’ peace in the staffroom.’
– Another definition is ‘a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended’. Can you use this definition of peace in a sentence? For example, ‘After the Second World War ended, there was a time of peace.’
In 1981, 37 years ago, an organization called the United Nations set up a very special day called the International Day of Peace. The event is observed by people all over the world on 21 September every year. The aim of the day is to encourage everyone to commit to peace, despite there being many differences among us. People observe the day in various ways. Some people have special parties; others bring everyone together to eat in peace. Some people put up peace poles; others organize peace workshops. One thing that is common to all of the different groups of people is that they aim to have one minute of silence at midday.
The world is spinning on its axis in space. As the world turns, midday occurs at different times in different parts of the world. For example, when it is midday in Paris in France, it will be 11 a.m. in the UK because Paris is one hour ahead of us. When it is midday in the UK, it will be 11 a.m. in Dakar in Senegal, West Africa. This is because Dakar is one hour behind us. Show the maps above to illustrate. This time difference means that different countries will be observing the one-minute silence at different moments across time zones. The idea is to create a ‘peace wave’ that moves around the globe.
Each International Day of Peace has a special theme. In 2018, the theme celebrates the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When the declaration (agreement) was written 70 years ago, it stated that everybody in the world should have equal rights to life, freedom and security. It didn’t actually say that everyone had the right to peace. This year, it is hoped that the International Day of Peace will again send out a clear message about the importance of peace.
Time for reflection
The International Day of Peace encourages people all over the world to think about the importance of peace. In many parts of the world, people are living in situations where war and unrest make peace seem unlikely or even impossible.
It may seem that we can do little to help change the world. However, each of us can do things that encourage peace in our own small parts of the world. All of us can help to create peace in school or in our homes. Each of us can try to live peacefully with one another. Each of us can listen to other people’s opinions and learn about our differences.
Think about what peace means in the context of the school.
– Is our school a peaceful place?
– Are there things that we can do to make school more peaceful?
– How could we make our classrooms more peaceful? What about our playgrounds? What about dinner times?
We may feel like we can’t make a massive difference to the whole world, but each of us can do little things that together make a big difference.
We pray for people in parts of the world where there is no peace,
Where there are wars and unrest.
We pray for peace.
We pray for the people we come into contact with each day.
Please help us to live in peace with them.
Help us to recognize that we are all different and that everyone’s opinions matter.