Last Friday, September 21, was the International Day of Peace.
Did you honor the day? I did. Thousands did.
But is the world more peaceful for us doing so?
The website Wars in the World tracks ongoing wars and terrorist actions taking place in the world each year. For 2012 they list sixty countries in which warfare and terrorism are happening. As we thought and taught and sang and marched, people were busy killing other people they didn't like or agree with or who stood in the way of something they wanted - revenge, money, or power.
According to E.O. Wilson in his book The Social Conquest of Earth, "War is embedded in our very nature." We've inherited a warlike psychology that will never go away. Group competition is built into our biology, our communities, and our governments. If there is an enemy then someone must win and someone must be defeated. Warfare has existed from prehistoric times. Advances in technology are birthed in war. Power and honor are won in war. War deaths are glorified, remembered, and avenged. Over and over in an endless round of bloodshed.
John Hogan disagrees. Wilson pegs the biological imperative to war on the competition and violence observed among chimpanzees. Hogan disagrees with characterizing chimpanzees as "killer apes." Based on observations by Jane Goodall and others, chimpanzees killing one another is very rare and may, in fact, be related to the shrinking of their native habitat. Nor does killing date back to the earliest humans as Wilson posits. All evidence - wall paintings, weapons, mutilated bodies - date to 10,000 years or less.
But there is even a better form of proof that war is not our natural state. Every day people all over the world in cities, small towns, and hamlets get up, go to work or to worship or to events with others, and they do not kill each other when they disagree. And on Peace Day people come together and demand peace. But one day set aside is not enough. Every day must be peace day. Every day we need to stand up and shout out so those fighting hear us and stop. That is our task. That is our burden. Join us.
Teach peace in your home, your community, your country, the world.
And here is a link to people who dedicated themselves creating a more peaceful world that can be used in the classroom. http://www.salsa.net/peace/faces/
The Story of International Peace Day