On the eve of the most important time in the yearly calendar of the United Nations, a high level conference was convened to discuss the development of a “Culture of Peace”. This is a complex issue that is even more necessary in this time of deep upheaval in the world. We face conflict on a world wide scale in Africa and Asia, rapidly deteriorating climate situations that are leading to increased disasters on the grand scale and further fraying of the fabric that holds the human race together with intolerance and disrespect of race and religion.
All participants in the conference spoke of a need to move beyond the ending of armed conflict and war for the Culture of Peace to take root. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was quite clear that the current list of humanitarian crises are going to need solutions if we are to bring the world to a more stable and balanced position where true peace can be enjoyed. As he stated: “Today’s meeting is about the very hard truths in our world,” he said, “where people are suffering and dying from violence and atrocity crimes.” He went on further to state: “Even in mostly peaceful, democratic societies, minorities are attacked for their race, sexual orientation or some other difference – when they should be embraced for our common humanity.” “We cannot build a culture of peace without an active campaign against division and injustice,” said Mr. Ban. “To be more than just soothing words, the culture of peace demands courageous practice.”
The true embrace of a peaceful culture requires that societies be inclusive and tolerant and that each citizen is responsible for demonstrating the proper behavior for this climate to exist. Included in this society is an education program that assists all in reaching academic goals and where discrimination and racism are eliminated.
Even the media has a role in this by tamping down emphasis on stories of violence and providing truthful and unbiased accounts of issues form both perspectives.
As one participant remarked in the meeting, “Today’s discussion is an opportunity to focus on what we need to do on our pathway to a new and prosperous future for all.” Logically it may make total sense to embrace peace, as it will provide new economic opportunity, but even more importantly, emotionally we need peace.