The Fiji Times

Blessed are the peacemaker­s

According to the UN reports, Sudan is now home to the highest number of internally displaced anywhere in the world, with at least 7.1 million up-rooted


ON Thursday, the whole world celebrated Internatio­nal Day of Peace. Although the UN day is not as famous as others like World Press Freedom Day, Internatio­nal Women’s Day or World Teacher’s Day, it is important neverthele­ss.

The UN General Assembly has set aside the special day to help strengthen the ideals of peace, by observing 24 hours of nonviolenc­e and ceasefire.

Why? Because never has our world needed peace more. Just look around us.

The Ukraine-Russia war seems like a never-ending fight. Despite efforts made globally to end it, the armed conflict continues to rage on in Europe.

In the continent of Africa, clashes continue in the war-torn Sudan.

According to the UN reports, Sudan is now home to the highest number of internally displaced anywhere in the world, with at least 7.1 million uprooted.

More than six million Sudanese are one step away from famine and experts are warning that inaction could cause a spill over effect in the volatile region.

In the Middle East, strife can be heard and seen in the mainstream media every second day. The scourge of hunger, HIV/ AIDS, strange diseases, famine, climate change and natural disasters continues, without any end in sight.

On the other hand, for many people living in stable, well-educated and prosperous communitie­s, every day is an invaluable gift to wake up to.

Peace in these places seems invisible because people’s hearts are filled with contents and happiness.

People enjoy living in good homes, going to good schools, walking on safe streets and lawbreakin­g is unusual.

However, this environmen­t and type of living is absent or different in some parts of the world around us.

In some countries, every year wars kill hundreds of lives, including women and children, poverty puts millions more through a life of struggle and low levels of education makes people unemployed and in need of the many offerings of life.

With military conflicts, humanity takes a significan­t step backwards, as many things have to be recovered instead of going forward.

Just look at the past two world wars to understand this. Both wars caused the loss of human lives, property loss, economic collapse, poverty, hunger and infrastruc­tural destructio­n.

But among the trail of destructio­n the wars left behind emerged humans’ insatiable desire for peace.

The absence of comfort and the overriding feeling of anxiety and fear brought about by conflicts, created spaces in the human heart that allowed humans to, once again, yearn for goodwill, friendship and unity.

That is why the celebratio­n of the Internatio­nal Day of Peace, which is aimed at conveying the danger of war, is very important.

This year’s IDP theme was Actions for Peace: Our Ambition for the #GlobalGoal­s, a call to action that recognises individual and collective responsibi­lity to foster peace.

On the day, UN SecretaryG­eneral António Guterres said, “Peace is needed today more than ever.”

“War and conflict are unleashing devastatio­n, poverty, hunger, and driving tens of millions of people from their homes,” he said.

“Climate chaos is all around. And even peaceful countries are gripped by gaping inequaliti­es and political polarizati­on.”

Defined loosely, peace simply means being in a place, where no hatred and no conflict exists and where hatred and conflict are replaced by love, care and respect.

We are now in the year 2023. We find that fostering peace is becoming impossible without justice and fairness, without the values of respect and understand­ing, without love and unity, and without equality and equity.

Crime continues to escalate, our women and children continue to get raped, there is a lot of hatred and rancour, our streets are not safe at night and our homes are not secure.

People don’t respect people’s space, people’s human rights and people’s property.

The internet and social media have revolution­ized the world, the way we do things and the way we live our lives.

But some of these are extinguish­ing peace instead of disharmony. Despite efforts to use the internet to prevent conflict, social media is fueling hatred, radicalisa­tion, suspicion, rallying people to disturb the peace, spreading untruths and creating disunity.

The Preamble to the Constituti­on of UNESCO declares that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructe­d.”

Therefore, for us in Fiji, every day and every opportunit­y must be exploited to support people to understand each other, work together to build lasting peace and make a safer world for diversity and unity.

Because we are all anticipati­ng Fiji’s upcoming games in the Rugby World Cup 2023, we should think seriously about how we can use sports as instrument­s of peace.

Our Fiji Water Flying Fijians are doing this superbly every time they erupt in singing, give a handshake or a smile, and lift their hands and eyes to the skies in prayerful meditation.

There are no wars in Fiji yet we are still struggling to instill peace in our hearts, mind and lives.

We still need peace in our families and communitie­s.

Peace is more than the absence of war.

It is about living together with our imperfecti­ons and difference­s – of sex, race, language, religion or culture.

At the same time, it is about striving to advance universal respect for justice and human rights on which peaceful co-existence is grounded.

Peace is more than just ending strife and violence, in the home, community, nation and the world. It is about living it everyday.

UNESCO says peace is a way of life “deep-rooted commitment to the principles of liberty, justice, equality and solidarity among all human beings.”

Have a peaceful week with a quote from the Bible (Matthew 5:9) “Blessed Are the Peacemaker­s, for They Will Be Called Children of God”.l

Until we meet on this same page, same time next week, stay blessed, stay healthy and stay safe.

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 ?? Picture: AP ?? Ukrainian servicemen walk through a charred forest at the frontline a few kilometres from Andriivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine.
Picture: AP Ukrainian servicemen walk through a charred forest at the frontline a few kilometres from Andriivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine.
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