The International Day of Living Together in Peace has been celebrated on May 16th since the resolution 72/130 got adopted at the end of 2017. It makes the 2020 celebration the third ever, but arguably the most important one so far. Due to the Coronavirus, this world is experiencing an unparalleled crisis that is often compared to the Second World War in terms of its impact on the global society. If this world needs to live together in peace, now almost more than ever is the time.
The importance of this claim shouldn´t be understated at all but repeated over and over again. Multilateralism is a fleeting reality and global governance a distant idea that current political leaders refuse to focus on because of their own national problems. Nationalism is on the rise and with-it discrimination against anything that we started cherishing in recent years. Diversity, culture, and creativity are increasingly viewed as threats to the individualistic and narrow-minded approach of only caring about myself and like-minded people.
This crisis is deeply intertwined with the fear that politicians use globally to make their citizens behave in a way that they want them to. This rederick is shockingly popular and reveals even deeper problems in our society. Leaders all across the world rather use fear and force than the solid reasoning and empathy to cope with this crisis. Therefore, the biggest wars moved within national boundaries. All the progress on multilateralism and global governance seems to be dismissed, due to COVID-19.
However, as dramatic, painful and horrible this pandemic is – again, this shouldn´t and can´t be mentioned often enough – it is vital to lift our heads up and use this time to the best of our abilities. At the end of the day, the whole world is in this crisis together which is an unprecedented case. It allows the world to see its essence in the rawest and most transparent way which reveals some ugly truths about us as society as indicated before. Nevertheless, in light of the day we are celebrating today, it is a strong reminder and opportunity to reorient ourselves to true peace.
“Living together in peace is all about accepting differences and
having the ability to listen to, recognize, respect and appreciate others, as
well as living in a peaceful and united way.”
(https://www.un.org/en/observances/living-in-peace-day, May 15th 2020)
The Coronavirus allows us to see ourselves, our identities, strengths, and weaknesses on several levels including personal, relational, local, national, and international ones. There seems to be no way around it but examining our entire life. This exceptional opportunity should not be wasted or ignored. Obviously, the crisis has a different impact on each and every one. While many people lost their jobs, others are incredibly busy organizing businesses in a sustainable way so that future jobs are secured. Many people have lost dear ones and are afflicted by severe physical, psychological, and spiritual pain. Still, there are some people who aren´t affected tremendously by this pandemic due to their job, lifestyle or at times ignorance.
It is crucial to acknowledge all of us in this situation to think about how to create true peace. There will always be differences in ideologies, beliefs, opinions, etc. However, contrary to the common assumption peace doesn´t aim at unifying all those differences to one correct option. Rather, it encourages differences to exist since humanity is far too diverse, creative, and unique to be limited to one particular form of life. True peace is found in listening, recognizing, respecting, and appreciating each other in our differences. This is only possible if we – each and every one of us – express who we really are and how we view our life.
Obviously, there is a lot more to discuss and to go deeper into in this matter. However, the International Day of Living Together in Peace, especially this year in this pandemic, should be seen as an invitation to “further promote reconciliation to help to ensure peace and sustainable development, including by working with communities, faith leaders and other relevant actors, through reconciliatory measures and acts of service and by encouraging forgiveness and compassion among individuals” (https://www.un.org/en/observances/living-in-peace-day, May 15th 2020). It is rather the start of a process than the proclamation of a conclusion. True peace isn´t a result but a continuous process in all of society.
Therefore, true peace can never exist nor last if it is forced upon each other. It must come from each one of us and eventually will move an entire society closer towards each other. Even though we seem very divided at the moment with many things in an uncertain condition for a longer period of time, let´s encourage one another to make good use of this time to be there for each other. Change towards true peace is a daily commitment, but it starts with one to galvanize others. Why shouldn´t you be the one who brings about that change in your life and community? On this note, happy International Day of Living Together in Peace!