Each year, on 21st September, people throughout the world mark an International Day of Peace. Across our planet, communities live with the impact of war and violence, but there are also many examples of mankind’s ability to resolve conflict, foster better relationships and create happier, more peaceful societies, including here, in Northern Ireland.
It’s more important than ever to celebrate these achievements and promote attempts to encourage peace, understanding and friendship.
Over its history, the citizens of Belfast experienced violence, rioting and suffering. We now live in a better place, which we share with people from different backgrounds, religions and races, but our society still has deep divisions, and we cannot take peace for granted. We must keep working hard to improve relationships across our community.
On International Peace Day this year, as citizens of Belfast let’s undertake at least one act which shows kindness to fellow human beings or increases understanding between people from different backgrounds in the city. Let’s share the message of peace across the globe, because, in a frequently violent world, Belfast has become a symbol of hope for all those who want to resolve conflict.
Make a difference. Let’s do something to build peace and to understand our neighbours better. Let’s pledge for peace.
10 ways you could mark Peace Day.
1) Attend an event in Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week (19th-25th September) (www.nicrc.org.uk)
2) Donate to an aid agency or charity.
3) Call into one of the churches open on Peace Day. https://www.facebook.com/Openchurchesbelfast/
4) Go to an area where you have never been in before because you think it has a sense of “other” and just visit or even have a coffee/tea in a coffee shop while there.
5) Join Cooperation Ireland, as it celebrates peace-making at “Amazing the Space”, in the Eikon Exhibition Centre, Maze / Long Kesh. (Wed 21st 11am-1pm)
6) Go for a cup of coffee, tea or a pint with someone from another religious or cultural tradition.
7) Come along to Belfast City Hall on Wednesday 21st September at 6.30pm to make a pledge for peace.
8) Expand your horizons by attending an event associated with a different culture/denomination/religion. Bring an open mind.
9) Get involved in your community as a volunteer.
10) Learn about this year’s UN theme for International Day of Peace: sustainable development goals. ( https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg1)
Fr. Martin Magill is the Parish Priest at Sacred Heart Parish, Belfast.