Happy International Day of Peace

The UN International Day of Peace is one of my favourite UN days (and not just because it falls on my birthday 😛 ). Peace is something I care a lot about – whether it’s political peace (as in: the absence of war), interpersonal peace (the absence of arguments or personal abuse, and the presence of trust and compassion), or personal peace (contentment, feeling whole within oneself).

“But”, you might ask, “how on earth is peace related to sustainability?”
And I must admit that I hadn’t really thought much about how the two things are linked, but once I started looking into it I was overwhelmed just how interconnected peace – or rather: war – and the climate and our treatment of the planet is…

When we look at some of the areas of current conflict, whether it’s Syria, Sudan or any other region from which people are fleeing, we can see that the political or social conflict was generally preceded by times of environmental problems such as droughts and food shortages. Those in turn are aggravated by the changing climate of the planet, which in turn is made worse by the way we treat the natural resources available.

Another example of not quite all out war, but nevertheless some (what I would call) severe injustices is found in the way we burden poorer nations with the often hazardous production of our goods (such as clothing, technology and the like), and then, once we’re done with using the product, ship the rubbish back to countries where people are risking their lives sorting through toxic waste or breathing in carcinogenic fumes and smoke…

Basically, what it comes down to is that we are committing climate injustice – whether by polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases which cause food shortages and then wars, or by exploiting people to make and deal with our toxic products. And injustice can never lead to peace.

I believe that we now live in a time where we can make huge strides towards making world peace a reality. We live in the most peaceful time in history where the fewest people are dying in conflicts since the beginning of humanity. We are achieving amazing things in terms of technological and medicine advancements, and one billion people have been lifted out of severe poverty in the last few decades.

But as long as we treat people from other parts of the world as lesser humans, as long as we consider our needs above theirs, or our comfort more important than their survival – and as long as we keep exploiting them and their environment to suit our desires, we will keep struggling to take the next steps in the progress towards a day of international peace that doesn’t end at sunset anymore…

As Bahá’u’lláh said : The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.”

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