Joining forces around the World Peace Day
Thirty-five years have passed since the United Nations General Assembly declared in a resolution the International Day of Peace, with a purpose to commemorate and strengthen the “ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples”. Today, 21st September offers a great opportunity to recognize the positive impact of sport in the construction of more progressive and humanitarian communities.
This year’s Day of Peace will be celebrated at a time when the world has become less peaceful and permeated with widespread violence and destabilizing conflicts. Affected by this context, it is easier to close our eyes and focus only on protecting our loved ones, or even to succumb to despair and grief.
We live in times where a fear of strangers prevail rationality. Our fear of unknown is pursuing us to be constantly cautious. As a result, we are turning our head the other way when tragedy strikes someone who is different from us, speaks differently, looks differently or believes differently. In other words, today we are living in a world where it is hard to acknowledge the humanity and human rights of those who are different from us.
What it is the relationship of aforementioned with the International Peace Day? I believe that today, more than ever, there is a pressing need to move away from isolation. We must face our fears, develop relationships and change dynamics of human interaction. In this regard, the Peace Day provides an opportunity for everybody to commit to peace notwithstanding differences, as well as to become active actors in the construction of a culture of peace.
We as humans have demonstrated to be resilient and extraordinarily competent at fighting hardships. Therefore, on this International Peace Day, we should take actions that foster the necessary conditions for sustainable peace and to move toward feelings of compassion rather than ones of fear.
The Peace Day is also an invitation to all individuals to be both curious and creative. Curiosity is the first step before acknowledging the humanity of the one we fear. If we challenge ourselves to see the world through curious lens, we will be able to understand different point of views and to envisage our interconnectedness, similarities and human spirit. Creativity also plays a key role in imagining a better world and visualizing solutions for current global challenges. John Paul Lederach, a widely known peacebuilding practitioner, claims “Reach out to those you fear. Touch the heart of complexity. Imagine beyond what is seen. Risk vulnerability one step at a time.”
In this regard, I believe that sport is great platform for both: to inspire curiosity and catalyze a better, more tolerant and fairer world. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon has said, “Sport is a world language, a common denominator that breaks down all the barriers. It is a worldwide industry whose practices can have widespread impact. Most of all, it is a powerful tool for progress and development”. I, as a president of Peace and Sport, truly believe that sport can be an important vehicle to reinforce our common humanity and build conditions for a more peaceful world. Sport today is at the service of peace.
Currently, there is an active and legitimate peace through sport movement that is creating extensive webs of relationships at grassroots and international level through sport federations and international organizations. We as individuals can make live the International Peace Day after it ends by embracing and lobbying for the values of sport in our daily life. At the international level, governments and policy makers should be united to work for the common good rather than always focusing on country’s national interest. There is a need for collective actions and investment in programs aiming to improve the human capital and foster social development. The values and good intentions around the Peace Day should be used to share objectives, envisage concrete solutions and produce tangible results.