International Day of Peace : Sustainable culture of peace-Need of the hour

    21-Sep-2020
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Dr Jayadeba Sahoo
"May the sky be peaceful and peace giving; may the mind space be peaceful; may the earth be peaceful; may the waters be peaceful; may the medicinal plants be peaceful; may the forest be peaceful; may all the bounties of nature be peaceful; may the whole creation/ cosmos be peaceful; may there be peace and peace only; may such a peace come to all". Yajur Veda XXXVI.
Above quote reveals One of man’s earliest awareness was the need for a harmonious peaceful life with all living beings. In India the Vedic seers evoked ‘peace’ (santi) in many hymns. They inchanted the verses, invoking peace on earth, with the vegetative, the animal and the human world. Over the millenniums, the more strife man creates, the more he (she) calls out for peace. All that the world needs is peace and harmony. But is peace a dream ? A Utopian abstraction in a dehumanized, fragmented world, stockpiling all devastating war machines? And can we possibly uphold the culture of peace amidst the growing cult of violence and blind consumerism, or in a climate of distrust, acrimony and intolerance ?
Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.
Background
The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly. Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the Day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire. The United Nations invites all Nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.
This year, it has been clearer than ever that we are not each other’s enemies. Rather, our common enemy is a tireless virus that threatens our health, security and very way of life. COVID-19 has thrown our world into turmoil and forcibly reminded us that what happens in one part of the planet can impact people everywhere.
In last March, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on all warring parties to lay down their weapons and focus on the battle against this unprecedented global pandemic. While the message is intended for armed parties, solidarity and cooperation across borders, sectors and generations are also needed to win this new fight against the worst public health crisis of our time.
For the United Nations, 2020 was already meant to be a year of listening and learning. To mark its 75th anniversary, the UN has invited millions of people worldwide to join UN75, the largest and furthest-reaching global conversation on building the peaceful and prosperous future that we want.
As we struggle to defeat COVID-19, your voice is more important than ever. In these difficult times of physical distancing, this International Day of Peace will be dedicated to fostering dialogue and collecting ideas. The world will be invited to unite and share thoughts on how to weather this storm, heal our planet and change it for the better.  Even though we may not be able to stand next to each other, we can still dream together.
As humankind is still confronted with numerous armed conflicts, with the illegal use of military force and with various forms of violence, permanent and lasting peace and security still remain as a goal to be achieved, as they were fifty years ago at the moment of the creation of the United Nations.  Modern civilisation lives in the paradox of ever increasing capacity of man to comprehend the universe ascend to spaces unknown and the imminent threat of total annihilation. Development, independence, disarmament and peace are closely inter-related. Can there be peace alongside nuclear weapons ? Without peace, all our dreams of development turn to ashes. No peace today, no life tomorrow. The interface of development and peace, and of course disarmament has been the subject of many international conferences and global debates. So, “Peace or Perish” is new slogan both for present and future.
The 2020 theme for the International Day of Peace is “Shaping Peace Together.” Celebrate the day by spreading compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the pandemic. Stand together with the UN against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred. Join us so that we can shape peace together. The Preamble of the Earth Charter says, “We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward ….. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a Culture of Peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life and to future generations.” The world body -UN encourages people to "celebrate the day by spreading compassion, kindness and hope in the face of the (COVID-19) pandemic."  The pandemic has emerged as a common enemy of the world today. Thus, “if we want to preserve this humanity, we must give every chance to peace, freedom and conviviality. Because lasting peace is a prerequisite for the exercise of all human rights and duties,” says Federico Mayor, the then Director General of UNESCO.
Challenge of Peaceful Coexistence in Multiculturalism and Multiethnicity
The state of the world today clearly indicates that educators, educationists and other professionals involved and in charge of education, have failed in their goals to make the world a place that improves the material well-being of peoples and promotes a peaceful state of existence of all. Indeed, they have not defined a proper "Tool Chest" for peace builders.
Spiritual Education, Not Religious Education - A Solution
Being the country of Mahatma Buddha, Swami Vivekananda & Gandhi, India has a huge legacy of contributing to world peace. In a world troubled with conflict, a day dedicated to peace reminds us of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of Ahimsa or non-violence to be imparted by paradigm shift in Education. If education is to help us to meet the moral challenge of the age and play its part in the life of the community, it should be spiritualised, liberating and life giving. Thus, the urgent need is a U-turn, a paradigm shift, a shift of values, social practices and Global view in our education system to humanise, divinise and spiritualise whole educational dynamics to develop each of an elevated and harmonious personality for Excellence, Culture of Peace and Sustainable future.
India’s Education Guru Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan said, “The three things- vital dynamism, intellectual efficiency and spiritual direction together constitute the proper aim of education. Moral and spiritual training is an essential part of education… If we exclude the spiritual training in our institutions, we would have to be untrue to our whole historical development.” Even Mahatma Gandhi said, "There is no way to peace, Peace is the way". So Spiritualised Education for Sustainable Culture of Peace is the need of the hour as a means to foster peace and stability.
Wish You all A very Happy International Day of Peace
----  OM SHANTI ----

The writer is Sr Faculty, Brahma Kumaris & Professor ( Ex- Dean & Head), Dept. of Education Rajiv Gandhi (Central) University, Itanagar- 791 112.
He may be reached at email: [email protected]  , [email protected]