September 20, 2011
Let’s declare a ceasefire

Tomorrow, September 21, is “Peace Day”, or the International Day of Peace; a day which provides an opportunity for individuals all over the world, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date.{{more}}

The organizers of International Day of Peace say the day should also be viewed as a Day of Ceasefire – personal or political.

Although St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not at war with other nations, and for that we are thankful, as a people, our battles tend to be with one another. Ongoing strife between political opponents, neighbours, co-workers, spouses and family members can be debilitating and eventually devastating to the persons involved.

Just look at the carnage left in the wake of the shooting incident at Campden Park last week. At least two families, a neighbourhood, and the entire nation have been traumatized by the failure of some to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner.

Vincentians are invited to take the opportunity of the International Day of Peace to make peace in our own relationships, as well as make efforts to impact the larger conflicts of our time. Imagine what a whole Day of Ceasefire would mean to humankind.

Peace, some may say, cannot be achieved unless there is justice. While that is true, in most cases, the justice we seek is man’s justice, which sometimes never comes, and rarely allows us to achieve true peace, which is inner peace.

Pope John Paul II in his wisdom reminded us in 2002, on the occasion of World Peace Day, that “because human justice is always fragile and imperfect, subject as it is to the limitations and egoism of individuals and groups, it must include and, as it were, be completed by the forgiveness which heals and rebuilds troubled human relations from their foundations. This is true in circumstances great and small, at the personal level or on a wider, even international scale. Forgiveness is in no way opposed to justice, as if to forgive meant to overlook the need to right the wrong done. It is rather the fullness of justice, leading to that tranquillity of order which is much more than a fragile and temporary cessation of hostilities, involving as it does, the deepest healing of the wounds which fester in human hearts. Justice and forgiveness are both essential to such healing.”

Therefore, in seeking peace with our neighbour, we should extend, along with our olive branch, a hand of forgiveness. Sometimes, we have held grudges against co-workers, neighbours, etc for so long, that we can no longer remember what was the issue which caused the fallout in the first place.

There is no place where peace and forgiveness are more important than in the home. The home, which should be a place of refuge, for many women, children, and yes, men, is sadly, a place of abuse. Angry family members then go out into their communities, creating strife in our schools, workplaces and on the block.

The International Day of Peace was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the General Assembly. The first Peace Day was celebrated in September 1982. By creating the International Day of Peace, the UN devoted itself to worldwide peace and encouraged all of mankind to work in cooperation for this goal.

Could we all just declare a ceasefire in our homes, workplaces and communities for at least one day?