Reflecting on Peace in times of Conflict
By Magali de Biolley
On the 21st of September 2017, countries and individuals around the World celebrated the International Day of Peace. Originally established in 1981 by a unanimous resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, this day is a reminder of the past and an alarm bell for the future. This year’s theme- “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All” puts ahead the idea of non-violence and absence of war, aimed in 1981 by the UN. Antonio Gutierrez, UN Secretary General, in his speech for this special day, insisted on the vital role of the youth and pushed for more help and understanding towards refugees and displaced people around the world.
Even though the term ‘Peace’ could seem idealistic and vague, even more when used by a far-reaching international world, this utopia is the essence of numerous great efforts undertaken by groups and individuals around the world, who refuse not to believe in it. Peace Labs is one of these dreamers. Through our participation at different peace building conferences and meetings, different meanings associated with ‘Peace’ have been brought up several times. Is Peace only the absence of war? Is it about making peace, or building peace, or keeping peace? Is Peace a process, a distant goal or a precise moment in history? How can we actually define Peace for everyone when the realities and the needs associated with the idea of Peace are infinitely changeable?
If peace cannot be defined unanimously, the way people decide to interact with each other can enter in a different ideal: the one of respect- respect of the other’s sensitivities and understanding of a specific situation. This idea of ‘Respect’, part of this year’s theme, reflects Peace Labs personality. When asking people around me what pops up in their head when I tell them Peace Day, they provided me with very different ideas: happiness, love, peace of mind, hippy movement, friendship, freedom, mutual understanding and development. But also power, beauty contest, justice, Syria, cruelty free consumption, inhale and exhale. Peace Labs would use this International Day of Peace to remind that, in Mandela’s words; ‘the creation of an environment where all can flourish’ is the creation of a common ground where differences and dissimilarities co-exist, but where mutual understand through shared respect is possible. All these different words are emanating from people living together but facing different realities.