September 22, THE DAY AFTER: It was with shock and sorrow that we awoke the day after our beautiful peace event, to read that the U.S. had launched airstrikes against Sunni militants in Syria and along the Iraq border conducted with support from five partner Arab nations.
Quoting Albert Einstein: “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” War and violence result in killing of civilians; destruction of physical, cultural and historical environment; profits for warmakers; and severance of diplomatic and peaceful negotiations. Alternatives to violence which build peace and understanding include working with the United Nations to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, educate children, improve maternal health, and develop partnerships for development. This is how we counteract terrorism.
September 21, INTERNATIONAL PEACE DAY: In Tempe, Arizona, the temperature finally cooled off a bit close to dusk, and Servas – Valley of the Sun celebrated International Peace Day at a community park on the evening of Sept 21 with peace builders around the world. (As we met, hundreds of thousands of people marched in New York and other cities for climate justice and there was a huge march against the war on Ukraine in Moscow.) We talked about the UN proclamation and the hope for universal peace at a time of turmoil across the world. We acclaimed our hope for peace while enjoying the songs and guitar music of a newcomer. We introduced ourselves – from Hungary, Germany, India, Japan and the U.S. – and Servas members shared how this peace movement builds a real spirit of peace beginning with the traveler entering a host’s house, and sharing personal experiences, histories and cultures in trust, understanding and respect.
As a train roared by, we moved to a nearby low-lit grassy area and lit our candles. Each participant shared a few words of what peace means to him/her- individually, collectively and for the earth. There was a moment of silence and reflection. Together we raised our candles to the sky to collectively shout out PEACE TO THE WORLD in every language we know!
As we left for our homes each of us felt the comfort of Hope and the positive camaraderie from a quote from Richard – “ Every journey starts with 11! “. Though a small group, we have enough enthusiasm for building the SERVAS peace movement across the Valley of the Sun.