International Peace Day 2013
The International Day of Peace Blog
This morning I arrived at the United Nations to help launch the kick off of the International Day of Peace. I have the privilege and honor of escorting a large group of international youth and refugees into the UN who will participate in the peace ceremony and be educated in the peace process.
The International Day of Peace is a United Nations resolution voted into existence by the member countries to set aside a day to recognize the importance of world peace and global stability. The ceremony is comprised of the coming together of a small group of the worlds foremost peace leaders and in today's case, a group of international youth representatives escorted by them, to ring the famed "Peace Bell" located in the UN's Rose Garden. The Rose Garden, for those who are not familiar, is the place where world leaders take a break during rigorous voting and debates to make decisions, and to have intimate personal discussions with other world leaders regarding war and world crises. To be in the presence and solitude of such a powerful and hallowed place is at best beyond description.
During the day, I had the incredible privilege to interact with UN officials and to meet some of my peers in the peace process.
I got to shake hands with the Secretary General of the United Nations, and to have casual conversations with numerous other movers and shakers on the world stage. In particular I was moved to meet Monica Coleman who has been designated as the UN's Ambassador for women's and girls rights. Having given one of the two Keynote addresses on empowering women at the largest gathering of women in the world last February in India, I feel powerfully called to work together with Monica to change the status of women worldwide. As I have said in the past, until women have equality worldwide, we can never achieve world peace or planetary sustainability.
I also had the privilege to meet with Jonathan Schell, who served as one of the primary facilitators for the successful disarmament of the worlds nuclear powers.
Jonathan Schell has proposed a significant joint project with me which I am considering, and I will write later about both the project and the ramifications it would have worldwide.
During the Peace Bell ceremony, I was blessed to be right next to the Peace Bell, and only a few feet from the Secretary General. When the Secretary General and the UnderSecretary rang the Peace Bell, I felt the vibrations travel up through my feet, and visualized that energy rising in my body and blanketing the world with hope. It was a profound moment for me, and not one I am likely to ever forget.
Later, during the main ceremony, our youth gave short presentations in front of the assembly, and I was quite proud of both their presence and their projects toward peace. They are the future, and to have a part in sharing the path with them and helping to mentor them, is wonderful to say the least.
Prior to the main ceremony, Jane Goodall, the Messenger of Peace for the UN, mentioned to the Secretary General that no animals were represented in the process. She pointed out that they too share the planet with us, and that our actions profoundly affect them also. In response, the UN decided to create a moment in history, by including a dog in the ceremony. This is a first, and a moment in history that I am so thankful to have been present for.
Later in the day, Jane Goodall and I had the rare opportunity to steal away from the cameras and people ... literally retreating into a stairwell with security blocking the doorway so we could have a moment alone.
We talked about our common work and made plans and commitments to work together and support one another going forward. Like me, Jane travels so much that it is just not possible for either of us to cover the whole world, and since my work is really growing in India, I agreed to share her message along with mine when I speak there as I am there more often than her. We also discussed my traveling to Africa and connecting with her projects there also, which dovetails well with other requests for me to share my work globally. The bottom line for both of us is our mutual recognition that there will not be peace in the world until we as humans recognize our interconnectedness with all sentient and non-sentient beings, and take responsibility to promote equality not only between races and cultures, but also between species.
It is a huge job, but as I've always said, and Jane concurs; It starts by putting one foot in front of another and simply stepping up to the task at hand. The rest will be up to forces and responses beyond our control ... and perhaps even beyond our comprehension. Yet like her, I fully believe peace is possible, and so together, we continue to take the first step.
Beyond that, so many other powerful conversations took place during this incredible portion of my journey. And in the end, I am simply thankful that I am present in this transformative time and that I am continually blessed with the people and tools to do the work!
I will sign off for now, as there is much to be done tomorrow. New journeys, new partners, and a never ending vocation await!
Peace and Blessings to All,
Rev. Patrick McCollum
Historic first at the United Nations-
Jane Goodall points out that animals are not represented at the UN. The United Nations makes the decision to allow a dog to participate in the International Day of Peace to give the message that we share this planet with others and that what we do and the decisions we make affect their future also.