What peace means to me on International Peace Day


Camille Brayshaw/Fourth Estate

It seems as if the world is being poisoned by an evil concoction of pandemic, climate change, racism, sexism and a dash of every other bad -ism out there. The taste is nauseating, yet we continue to imbibe. What is the antidote?

The remedy is all around us if we take the time to look for it: peace. And today is the day to celebrate it. The International Day of Peace takes place every year on Sept. 21, and all of humanity is encouraged to unite against our differences and commit to building a culture of peace. 

The United Nations has many Peace Day traditions, one of which is the Peace Bell ceremony. On Thursday, Secretary-General António Guterres rang the bell and repeated his call for a global ceasefire.

The United States Institute of Peace is also encouraging citizens to partake in its annual Peace Day Challenge. To celebrate, participants may share their definitions of peace, learn peacebuilding practices and take action to create peace in their communities. Even though the world is on fire, efforts towards peace are not extinguished.

Here at Mason, we’re celebrating all week. The newly renamed Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution will be holding a daily series of roundtables, webinars and workshops to bring the community together in dialogue about peace, conflict resolution and justice. Patriots can make a difference from anywhere.

Before embarking on the daunting mission of saving the world, we must first take care of ourselves. Inner peace is a necessary condition for global peace. Journaling, meditation, yoga, exercise, and conversing with loved ones and friends are simple and meaningful ways to sort through internal conflicts. 

When I’m feeling stressed, I lace up my shoes and go on a run. My feet pad upon the soft earth, and my thoughts meander like the grassy trail. “What does peace mean to me?” I wonder. Around every bend is a new definition: contentment, kindness, clarity, joy. 

I find peace in morning sunrises and in my mother’s green eyes. The stars boiling and burning billions of light years away seem peaceful from this distance. Poetry makes me feel like a small flower basking in the sun, and music fills me with the calmness of a gentle breeze. 

Places surging with energy are home to peace as well: my friends’ laughter as I make a ridiculous dive for the volleyball and roll over covered in sand; my dad’s victorious shout as he solves the Wheel of Fortune puzzle before any of the contestants; and even the unintelligible phrases my brother yells to his gamer friends at 3 a.m. 

Suddenly, a realization comes to me. Peace is a balance between chaos and calm. We must recognize the yin and yang between conflict and peace and appreciate the process of creating change while aiming to solidify a lasting resolution.

Peace Day recognizes the world’s mysterious harmony and reminds us that despite everything, there is hope.