On Sunday, more than 70 people gathered at Swift Community Center in honor of the International Day of Peace, sponsored by Citizens Who Care and the Academy Foundation of EG.
Here are opening remarks from organizer Lindsay Daskalopoulos:
Each year, the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on Sept. 21st. It was first established by the UN General Assembly in 1981 to commemorate and strength the ideals of peace and to focus attention on the purpose of promoting peace in the world. While our news is dominated by violent headlines, this day may seem idealistic and unapproachable, but to the contrary, its inspiration is really very practical-if we don’t begin to take peace seriously enough to plan for it and develop effective strategies to achieve it, it will only become ever more elusive.
Bob Houghtaling and attendees.
So with all the grim news, many ask, where is the hope, what are the actions that will help? The answer lies with each and every one of us, and particularly with all of you – the young people here today – did you know that almost 1/2 of the world’s population is under 25, making your generation the largest generation in history and because of this, it is your generation that has the potential to lead the effort to reduce violent conflict around the world like never before. So it is so important for you to recognize that your efforts count so very much toward this end.
In the airways and on the news, we hear mostly of the violence and conflict that has its hold on the world, however there are so many that are working on peace-building that we don’t hear about and resolving conflicts in nonviolent ways, like those here today, Lou, Chuck, Thupten, Lacey and Andrew all teaching, practicing and sharing ideas about ways to resolve conflict and reduce violence through nonviolent means.
EGHS students Sophie Dellerman and Kyle Matus.
Citizens Who Care co-president Lindsay Daskalopoulos.
Many youth groups from around the world and in conflict torn areas like Afghanistan, Iraq and South Sudan are engaging in peace-building through social media, music, film and sports related activities. (example) In Afghanistan, youth groups organized a rap video contest inviting youth to join the contest promoting peaceful elections.
Over the past months, I have had the wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas and visions with Bob about how to recognize this day and carry forward this message of peace and most plainly, we are asking you for your help to bring solutions to our local community and globally in small and larger ways. Perhaps it is creating a Peace Club in school, or joining in on some of the many community building events that are taking place this year in EG like AfterProm, or creating ways to raise funds for the refuge and the Ebola crisis we are facing, or checking out the phenomenal work being done at the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at URI, or how you conduct yourself on the sports field or simply reaching out to someone you wouldn’t normally because he or she is different from you. In so doing, you would probably learn that in fact that person is not so different from you, that they care just as much as you do about their loved ones, that they want to live in a safe and secure community with equality and justice, that they want to belong and be included.
Motivational speaker Lewis Dodley addresses the gathering.
Thupten Tendar, of the URI Center for Nonviolence.
Today is a day to think about how we all have a shared responsibility to contribute to this effort of world peace. It is not a pie in the sky ideal, or a pipe dream but it is actionable and possible if we all step up, and use our diverse and varied talents, our creativity and our hope to work to solve violent conflict both locally and globally.
Gary Slutkin, a renown epidemiologist, has conceptualized the problem of violence as a contagious disease and has tackled it from this perspective with great success but perhaps peace is similar, could it be contagious to? It starts with each of us, can we spread the peace germ? The road is long, but perhaps it just takes one person at a time, one acton at a time, one hope at a time to keep the ball rolling.
Andrew Paul Maksymowicz, executive director of “Too Much Too Soon.”
The Three Amigos – Brad Logan, Bruce Dearnley and Rob Walsh – perform.
Lou Dodley talks with Lindsay Daskalopoulos over pizza.