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UPF Statement on the UN International Day of Peace 2011

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The International Day of Peace 2011
New York, 21 September 2011

[French]

“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” (UNESCO Constitution, 1945)

The International Day of Peace 2011 comes at a time when peoples and nations around the world are facing challenges of dramatic proportion. At such a time, the cry for peace seems to be drowned out by the noise of polarized political battles, and our hopes for peace dampened by everything from catastrophic financial crises, famine in the horn of Africa, to violence in our streets; and these are but of few of the sad realities that dominate today's headlines.

In the midst of such tragedies and difficulties, our collective efforts to promote a vision of peace on the United Nations’ International Day of Peace are all the more necessary.

This year’s theme is “Peace and Democracy: Make Your Voice Heard,” indicating that the voices and practices of peace must not be silent or passive. We know that in too many places around the world, the voices of peace are restricted or silenced. Digital communications technologies, however, are making it increasingly difficult to suppress free expression.

At the same time, we know that technologies alone cannot bring about lasting peace. Peace has its foundation in the quality of human character and human relationships. And it has been our shared moral and spiritual traditions that, throughout millennia, have taught us of our common origins, purpose and destiny.  

Therefore, as we celebrate the International Day of Peace, let us keep in mind that peace will emerge on the foundation of a moral and spiritual awakening. In this way, when we raise our voices to be heard, we will not have a cacophony of discord, but a symphony of harmony and good will that uplifts, encourages, respects and inspires us to act in service to others.

Lasting peace and the growth in solidarity among the whole human family comes from the recognition that we are all brothers and sisters. We are one family under God.

Let us also keep in mind that the basic building block of society, culture and moral character is the family. The family serves as the primary school of ethics. The family is the school where we learn to love, respect and serve others. By strengthening marriage and family, we can educate our children to respect all people, thereby establishing a culture of peace.

Religion has profound relevance and significance in the effort to achieve peace and development. At the same time, we recognize that all too often religious voices have sown seeds of fear, bigotry, and narrow sectarianism, contrary to the core spirit and teachings of the founders of the great spiritual traditions. For this reason, religion has often been a voice of conflict and division.

Given this reality, one voice that should be lifted up on this international day of peace is the voice of interfaith dialogue, mutual respect and cooperation. With increasing spiritual awareness, there can emerge a great collective will to ensure the well-being of all people.

Laws alone cannot bring about political, economic and social reforms but must be undergirded by substantial educational programs aimed at promoting character education, conflict resolution, and a culture of peace. Men and women who are taught to fulfill their moral obligations and responsibilities toward others will respect and live for the greater good and fulfillment of others.

On this International Day of Peace, let us all raise up our voices of peace, and let us work together to build a world that resembles our shared hopes and aspirations.

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