A reflection by Soroptimist International Moreton North Inc. member and peace activist Sarah Cowley
Wow, what a year! Peace Day 2017 was an absolute hoot full of hard work, dedication, inspiring young leaders and committed global citizens.
UN Secretary General António Guterres, UN Messenger of Peace and Environmental Activist Jane Goodall, and UN Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake all attended the event. It was motivating to see 500+ youth and adults who are committed to working for peace, join together in New York to share ideas, ask the Secretary General questions and collaborate. In my speech I was able to share the message of peace from a refugee I met earlier this year, and also learnt about fabulous grassroots projects that are also helping refugees and migrants around the world.
In my two week trip to the USA, I also facilitated the Peace Crane Project in classrooms across the east coast, gave presentations at corporate events, and attended other Peace Day activities.
Going to the classrooms was a major highlight. Seeing kids engage and share their messages of peace is something that drives and encourages me. Empowering the youth is key to creating change for the future and I am so glad to see so many kids switched on and engaged in peace already.
It is exciting that we have schools in more than 55 countries taking part in the Peace Crane Project this year.
Someone sat with me after an event in Chicago and said, “What can we really do? What can we actually do on a daily basis that is going to contribute to creating a more peaceful world?”.
I’d like to finish by sharing my answer to her.
Every single one of us is highly intelligent, full of potential and is an agent of change. If we are being serious about creating peace in the world, we need to start with ourselves, our homes and our communities. When we create safe spaces that are peaceful, open and caring, this creates a foundation where acceptance, compassion and love are prevalent. We listen, support one another and are united, which then creates a positive cycle rather than a negative one of judgement, resentment and hatred.
We have to focus on teaching children ways of resolving conflict that does not involve violence. Kids learn from the actions of others, so always lead by example and never forget how much your actions count or how far the ripple effects can go.
I truly believe the majority of people want peace. All of us can act more peacefully, and I really want everyone to know that what they do counts. This attitude combined with real action at home and at the community, national and international levels is what is will create change in this crazy world.
Here’s to Peace Day 2017 and let’s continue to work together to grow the movement and momentum for global peace, next year and in the years to come.