All They are Saying — Give International Day of Peace a Chance
Article on the Times Herald website
By M. English For MediaNews Group
Sep 18, 2020
PLYMOUTH — Sept. 21 is the International Day of Peace, an annual United Nations commemoration created in 1981 to provide “a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to peace above all differences and to contribute to building a culture of peace.”
Easier said than done…
In fact, the most recent Global Peace Index released by the Institute for Economics and Peace reports “peacefulness has declined 2.5 per cent since 2008.”
Afghanistan heads GPI’s list of least peaceful places for the second year in a row, “followed by Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen.” But as both national and international headlines scream daily, the globe’s hot spots number way more than five.
Clearly, managing the seemingly non-ending turmoil is a challenge for the world’s adult leaders. On the other hand – given the effectiveness of young activists like Nobel Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai (female education), Nobel Prize nominee Greta Thunberg (climate change) and the Parkland, Fla., teens who survived 2018’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (gun control) in spreading their messages – how might the kids of the world foster global tranquility?
“Appreciation of difference as well as commonality through a curriculum built on respect” is central to the educational approach at Plymouth Meeting Friends School, and – not surprisingly – the local students have a thought or two on the subject.
Consider the following reflections by a group of PMFS fifth-graders:
“…kids can foster world peace by being kind,” Leo Kessler observed. “As some people would say, treat others as you want to be treated.”
“Kids can donate food to homeless shelters,” added Declan Guarino-McWilliams.
Or, “start a yard sale and, then, earn money to donate it to kids in need,” said Guarino-McWilliams triplet Stella.
Tosh Conlon agrees.
“…giving things in need to homeless people and, also, making equal rights in the world,” Conlon said.
Reese Guarino-McWilliams figures attention to the latter is key:
Specifically, “have men and women talk about their equality so they have equality and…rights to be who they are and not be afraid to speak out.”
“I think what a kid would do is not participate in war,” said Noreen Hoskins. “Ban all the racism to the shadow realm. Money isn’t people’s life.”
“…be nice and kind to everyone and anyone in need of food and water,” Sophia Nadeau-Bogota recommended. “Start a peaceful protest, and make sure everyone is treated equally.”
She gets no argument from classmate Callista.
“I can help out around the community and maybe make a club and not make anyone feel excluded so everyone will be equal,” she said. “I also think that we could do some peaceful protesting while this stuff is going on around the world.”
PMFS sixth-graders Elise Drury, Suraayah Greene, Oscar Gasga and Hannah Hoskins see a similar path to peace.
Elise: “We can protest for equal rights with our families.”
Suraayah: “One of the few things a kid can do is give food or share food and goods to people that need them. Or they could…tell others to join them (and) have like a weekly yoga and talk time or something so people can just get to know each other – just something that brings other people together.”
Oscar: “Be respectful, kind, nice. As long as the kids are nice, everything will be fine. A kid should show everyone respect and that we can all be kind and not do bad things. Since COVID is going around, we all have to work together, not show more division and anger.”
Hannah: “We can surround ourselves with good people who, hopefully, will join and try to become better people than people in the past and help us when we are faced with hard problems of good and bad because, sometimes, the right choice is not clear…try to see all sides of a situation so we may make the best choice for us and the people around us.”
Hannah’s brother, Calvin, a PMFS third-grader pointed to “getting our economy back together…electing Joe Biden,” while fourth-grader Leah Armstrong vowed simply: “I will try to stop the violence.”
In the end, Icelanders might well offer the best advice for world peace.
According to the Global Peace Index, Iceland “remains the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008…joined at the top of the index by New Zealand, Austria, Portugal and Denmark