Peace Begins With You: The International Day of Peace, September 21, 2019

On September 21, 2019, I plan to join the world community in observing the International Day of Peace with rituals, reflections, meditation and songs. Join us. Like you, I believe peace is a daily goal. Who doesn’t want peace? However, we are challenged to manifest peace due to our internal and external political and social conflicts. Yet, within the human collective is a strong desire for peace. Why should you observe the International Day of Peace? Let’s talk about it….

Why an International Day of Peace?

The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) was established in 1981 by the United Nations. The observation happens annually on the 21st of September. 

According to the United Nations' website:

“Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and contribute to building a Culture of Peace.”

Hopefully, you will research online or in your community for various programs scheduled to honor Peace Day. If your community does not have anything planned, then you can plan an event. The activities can be simple like going on nature walks, having conversations with family and friends about the meaning of peace, volunteering, or sponsoring a community dinner. Through these activities, hopefully ideas will be planted that will eventually give birth to a new reality of making room for peace beyond personal boundaries.

Peace and the Hero’s Journey

As documented in The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, the hero embarks on an adventure of self-discovery. What usually triggers the journey? Peacelessness. If we only glance at the hero’s journey, it is easy to focus on the egocentric ideas and miss out on the common theme of justice and peace. If the hero was at peace in their current space, then there would be no need for a journey. In essence, the goal of the hero is to achieve a state of inner and external peace. We root for heroes because they replace chaos with peace. Would we admire Spider-Man if he did not try to fight crime and bring peace? Is Bruce Wayne’s Batman admirable if he did not fight for justice? Is Wonder Woman a hero if she did not fight for fairness? Vicariously, we live through hero stories and myths to fulfill our need for resolutions of conflicts in our own lives.

Through the retelling and pondering of traditional myths and stories, we recognize a common cycle of peace-conflict-peace:
  • Peace exists
  • A disagreement happens
  • Fear of lack spreads
  • Absence of peace
  • A period of restlessness ensues
  • Community dialogue is initiated
  • Abundance is recognized
  • Corrective solutions are implemented
  • Agreements are established
  • Peace returns
Like a hero's journey, we desire to restore peace after chaos. We have many examples of how communities come together after natural disasters. However, as we focus on our own lives and internal struggles, we are prone to forget our connection to a whole beyond ourselves. Peace Day is an opportunity for us to remember our innate desire to live peacefully with humanity.  

What is Peace?

According to Merriam-Webster, peace is:  A state of tranquility or quiet such as:
  •       Freedom from civil disturbance
  •         A state of security or order within a community provided by law or custom
  •       Freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
  •       Harmony in personal relations

Recently, I recognized the word ‘harmony’ is ‘harm-ony'; Within a state of harmony is harm. Is it a random coincidence that ‘harm’ is a part of ‘harmony’? I do not think so. In a win-loss society, somebody has to experience harm because there has to be a winner and a loser. However, in a win-win society, everybody wins but the capacity to share is required. 

Consider a circumstance when two people want the same pie:

Game Theory
Who eats the pie?
Harmony or Harm-ony?


One person

One person eats a full pie, the other person has no pie.

The person who is not given a piece of pie feels harmed.


The pie is cut into two pieces. Both people get a piece of pie.  

Nobody eats the full pie. Each person has a piece.

Nobody is harmed, but instead of one person getting a whole pie, both people get half a pie.

Does the person who agrees to share the pie experience harm? It depends on the mindset. According to Albert Einstein, "we shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive". The person who shares the pie is only eating a part instead of a whole. If the person has a mindset of scarcity, then he/she may feel harmed because half a pie is less than a whole pie. However, with a mindset of abundance, we know half a pie is plenty of pie. Sharing our resources with others is sharing with ourselves.

Peace Begins With You

One way to manifest peace in the world is by being an example of what peace looks like. We exhibit peace by how we treat ourselves and others. According to some therapists, we experience inner turmoil because we disagree with our reality. To complicate matters, we don’t have easy methods to access our unconscious beliefs. One way to discover your hidden feelings is through word association. In the article, Using Junglian Therapy to Find Emotional Balance, word association is when a therapist says a word, phrase, or idea. The patient is then asked to say the words that come into their mind. These words reveal deeply held beliefs. On Peace Day, you can perform this exercise alone or with friends. Say, “Peace”, and then write the words and memories that immediately come to mind. Discuss and reflect on your results. This exercise helps uncover unknown biases towards peace.  After we resolve our own blockages to inner peace, we will have more energy to spread peace in the world. 

Justice and Compassion

Justice is defined as fairness in the way people are dealt with. Our communities develop laws and courts to establish and maintain peace. When peace is broken, as a result of not adhering to community laws, justice is the remedy. War is a form of justice used to restore fairness and peace. Using ‘violence’ to promote ‘peace’ is contradictory. Peace Day is a chance for humanity to encourage non-violent peaceful solutions to conflicts that plague our global communities. 

Peace Psychology

According to Thomas E. Cooper and Daniel J. Christie, peace psychology is a specialized study of psychology that seeks to develop practical methods of promoting peace. William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, argued that war is not likely to be eliminated until humans have created a “moral equivalent of war”, such as activities which enable people to fulfill their human need to express virtues such as loyalty, duty, and group pride. 

Let’s Keep Going

Let's continue conversations about peace in our communities.

The Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict and Violence is sponsoring the Psychology & Peace 2020 conference which will be held on the campus of Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, on May 29-31, 2020. Join us.

Music About Peace

Peace image courtesy of the United Nations website.