We must all take action-oriented steps for peace

Al Jubitz

By Al Jubitz, a member of the Arch C. Klumph Society and major supporter of the Rotary Peace Program

Every year, Rotary clubs around the world are asked to support peace-related activities leading up to 21 September, International Day of Peace (Peace Day). By engaging in practical acts of peace, we show our desire that there be peace among all the people of the world.

As I think about Peace Day, I think about the saying “peace begins with me.” I also think about the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Personal behavior and attitudes are key elements of living a good and purposeful life.

I consider the work of retired U.S. Ambassador John W. McDonald, a diplomat for more than 40 years, who was instrumental in getting Peace Day on the calendar. In 1981, McDonald was approached by a senior Costa Rican diplomat, who told McDonald the Costa Rican president wanted the UN to designate an international year of peace. McDonald discovered that the next few years were already designated for other goals, so he suggested requesting an annual day of peace instead. Ultimately, the UN established an International Day of Peace to begin in 1982, and named 1986 as the International Year of Peace. At the age of 70, McDonald also founded the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy to focus on ethnic and religious conflicts and peace-building.

I also consider the peacemaking efforts of university professor and Rotarian Harry Anastasiou, who witnessed firsthand the ethnic violence in Cyprus in the 1960s and 1970s that divided the island into Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Harry didn’t wait for someone else to reconcile the conflict. He and his friend and Rotarian Birol Yesilada, a fellow professor at Portland State University in Oregon, USA, set out to create peace through action, research, and teaching. Today they are considered the fathers of the peace movement on Cyprus. They exemplify citizen-led peace-building, and are helping inform governmental leaders how to resolve the conflict.

We can all take action-oriented steps toward peace. It begins in our minds and in our hearts. We don’t need to wait for direction, or instruction. We must act on our own initiative, without fear of failure or desire for glory.

Why? Because it is the right thing to do. 

7 thoughts on “We must all take action-oriented steps for peace

  1. On September 21 – The International Rotary Peace Walk 2012 @ twilight will take place in Windsor, Ontario, Canada . A multi District event of District 6400 and District 6380 sponsored by the Rotary Club of Windsor Roseland. This is a 5km Walk along our beautiful Riverwalk followed by a BBQ and Peace Concert. The last summer concert on the last day of summer all in the name of PEACE. Rotarians and Community at large are asked to Celebrate the “Possibliites of Peace” and honour Rotary International President Sakjui Tanaka’s theme “Peace through Service” Please go to our Rotary Peace Walk 2012 Facebook sight and leave us a message of Peace.
    YIR and Peace Joyce Jones, President – Rotary Club of Windsor – Roseland

  2. Pingback: We must all take action-oriented steps for peace | Warsaw Rotary , Club 3393, District 6540

  3. Pingback: International Peace Day | Chatham Rotary Club

  4. You will only get Peace when all parties to a conflict want it. Ulster is a perfect example. When those using the bullet and the bomb realised they would get further by negotiations, Catholic terrorist sat down with Protestant terrorist and British Government Ministers and we had peace. Islamic terrorist and Jewish extremists do not seem to realise that all they do is further inflame the situation by their unbending nihilism and so there is no hope of peace in Israel

  5. Human Security – they are two useful words; one vital phrase here. One link in the how of practical acts for peace. A meeting point of conflict prevention / resolution with human development and human rights. Human Security looks at the needs of the human and community first and political security after that. Most paradigms of security and conflict resolution concentrate on national security first as the sole or central bridge to peace. Yet cross border and cross sector issues always come into play, such as famine or food access, water scarcity, health threats, the political or social upheaval of neighbours, social inequity. Practical acts for peace, engaging with people, communities and regions of conflict not simply underlining national divides, can help human agency and dignity and bottom up meets top down approaches. It can work with national security when a government is willing and able to serve the needs of its people. It can help enable the strengthening of partnerships between governance groups and civil groups. It can guide enterprises in how to avoid corruption or exacerbation conflict and even help by helping them add to not subtract from economic justice and security. It can help strengthen communities to act towards peace when the daily insecurities and threats are looked into, when lives are given back dignity or when shared threats such as water, food or fuel scarcity are addressed in such a way that welcomes collaboration rather than tribal ‘othering’ humans do when under threat. Human Security has been used, to great affect in many ways, by Japan since the pacifist constitution post WW11 and Asian Economic Crisis, for example.

    I studied human security in practice in South Africa and in Israeli and Palestinian territories and have recently spent time in Northern Ireland with some contact with the Transitional Justice Institute in Belfast. Whilst there are long journeys to travel and those who see human first, citizen second are still shockingly rare, the greatest battle we must face is the idea that until everyone is on board, no change happens. Believe me when I say that in grass-roots projects in what many call The Holy Land, ripples and quakes of change happen every time Israelis or Palestinians go out of their way to help one another or their communities, share bread or kind words. ‘The Circle of the Bereaved’ for example are parents and family who have lost those in the conflict who use their shared experience; transcend their grief, to engage in mutual support and acts of peace and humanity. A practical act for peace … when they travelled across one another’s borders to give blood. How can we, in the face of that faith and determination, not be pulled into practical acts of peace? Bravo I say, to practical acts when they enable others to act for peace too.

    • We can only applaud the individual acts of reconciliation and hope that they have greater effects on the ground than I fear they will. When the Peace Women marched in Ulster, Catholic and Protestant alike, we all thought a day had dawned when Peace was round the corner. But the Loyalists carried on shooting and the IRA carried on bombing. and nothing changed until the Politicians came to the table.
      In Israel it is the same story. The circle of the Bereaved meet and a candle burns for Peace, but the PLA produces regional maps that does not include Israel in the Region, Hamas and Hezbollah refuse to recognise that there is a State of Israel and have that in their constitutions. On the other side, homes are built on the West Bank, which dispossesses Arab farmers, Right Wingers claim all of Judea and Sumeria as being the Land of Israel, without consideration of the the established local population. There is not a Political will to settle the matter.
      Because of the nature of the Israeli Constitution a few small Rightist and Religious Parties are a tail which wag a secular and more liberal dog: on the other side the Politicians talk one side for the ears of the Western Leaders and a more radical and violent agenda for the Arab Leaders.
      Antonaizen sees a few trees and hopes it is the Forest

  6. iam so happy to rotary for peor people help iam a rotary of madhabundu kawsoti midpoint when i made rotary iam so happy thanks rotary international.

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