All over the world, we celebrate September 21 as the International Day of Peace— a day when everyone supposedly promotes and becomes more aware of PEACE. But what have we seen in the weeks after that date this year?
- Buddhist monks from Burma were gunned down, hundreds died while protesting in the streets…
- Pakistan government declared a state of emergency
- In other parts of the world, bombings, and killings here and there occurred everyday as if it is just an ordinary happening.
After watching news on TV, reading the daily newspaper, and witnessing all these violence happening all over the world, one reaches a point of saturation-- a feeling of numbness. Sometimes we loose touch, we loose our drive to respond or protest, or to just even care about the situation. We just go on with our daily routines, as if nothing has happened.
Just looking at this phenomenon, I am very alarmed, especially for our youth who had been exposed to the situations today - whether seeing the events in the world or themselves experiencing violence as a part of life within the very confines of their homes. One could wonder if there’s still HOPE for the next generation. Will it still be possible to live in a peaceful and wonderful world tomorrow?
While the bleakness of the future may seem evident, a shift in perspective may reveal the other side of reality-- that there are more and more people all over the world, both young and old, who are striving to promote PEACE!
I do believe and have seen this reality all over the world – starting with our URI CC’s which slowly and quietly work for PEACE in the grassroots level.
Here in our region in the Southeast Asia and the Pacific, promising initiatives and projects of CCs enkindle the flame of Hope for Peace. Stories from Australia and from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao Islands of the Philippines resound celebrations of peacebuilding work through interfaith gatherings.
Locally, in my part of the region—Cebu-- the mayor has consulted with the different sectors of society to envision plans for the city. This involved the faith-based organizations who are coming together as a promising force in realizing interfaith cooperation and peace work in the city. Meanwhile, three youth groups are being nurtured as potential youth CCs in the region.
As reiterated in during our Global face to face meeting in Belgium-- the VISION for our region for the next 2008 and beyond is set for the youth. The light of hope shimmers in them as we look forward to strengthening and preparing them for new leadership in the global URI.
As we strive to keep the VISION of Peace burning, we draw inspiration from the seeds of hope who will be carrying on the torch and keep it aflame to shine through the very seemingly dark corners of our lives, communities, nations and the world!
Now, isn’t that a very good reason to celebrate Peace? Yes it is! And it’s all the more a very good reason to celebrate peace not only on September 21-- but everyday of our lives! Let each day be a day of PEACE!
Sr. Sandra G. Clemente, RSCJ