The International Day of Peace is nearly upon us, coming Sunday. Unlike some observances, it does not ask anyone to cook or clean or buy presents, not that I begrudge the world those actions.
Peace day is a United Nations creation, and I suppose the United Nations was created by a dream of peace, after the horrors of the 20th century. People will hug, they will sing, they will make pinwheels and plant roses, and they will dance, in Central Park and around the world.
The International Day of Peace will feature the world’s biggest international groupie according to its website: “What’s a groupie? It’s a picture with more than one person/living being!”
This sounds fun. It’s in Washington Square Park at 2 p.m. Sunday.
As the president would say, “Let me be clear.” I am for peace 100 percent.
I like very much that people are celebrating a worldwide observance devoted to it.
It made me think, when I saw the many dignitaries pictured quoted on the U.N.’s calendar celebrating the day. Some of them were martyrs, advocates for peace or freedom who were murdered. Among those was Abraham Lincoln, who presided over a war that came close to ending the American experiment.
They quoted his speech at his second inauguration as president:
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Now those are great words. It’s ironic that he did preside over a war. He genuinely believed in peace and in forgiveness, I think.
We have not had a lasting peace in the past millennium or so. Yet it is what most of us yearn for. From the smallest social unit, a household, to a nation, to the world, we want peace, and to love and be loved. We want respect and safety.
But there are times when you have to take up arms. Peace is not an end in itself, to me. It’s the fruit of a just, good society. Just, good, and kind people are the particles that create such a society.