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World Day of Peace: Starting The Year Right As Instrument of Peace

The Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace is being commemorated every 1st day of the year, January 1st, primarily to promote universal peace. Briefly, the World Day of Peace was instituted by St. Paul VI in 1967, the first celebration of which was held in January 1968, hence, it’s the 55th Anniversary for this year. Note that the Church celebrates the said event, same day as that of the commemoration of the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. The Church’s World Day of Peace celebration is separate from that of the International Day of Peace of the United Nations to be held latter part (September) of the year.

For 2022, Pope Francis’ message on World Day of Peace focused on the dialogue between generations, education, and work which are considered essential tools for building lasting peace. The essence of the Pope’s message is on the vital role of every individual in peacebuilding. The Holy Father is appealing to world leaders and to all those charged with political and social responsibilities, to priests and pastoral workers, and to all men and women of goodwill, “to walk together with courage and creativity on the path of intergenerational dialogue, education, and work”. The Holy Father is likewise encouraging all Catholics, particularly workers and entrepreneurs to achieve a “fair balance between economic freedom and social justice, outlining 3 paths for building a lasting peace, to wit:

  1. Promoting dialogue between generations

Pope Francis called for a new alliance between the young and old to address the problems of isolation and self-absorption intensified by the coronavirus pandemic. He expressed hope that a dialogue between generations could become “the driving force behind a healthy politics.” Pope Francis indicated that while economic and technological development had caused divide between the young and the elderly, the current pandemic crises show that there is even a need for these two generations to be friendly and partners with each other. While the youth may have the technological know-how, the wisdom and expertise of adults and the elderly are of paramount importance. In the same manner, adults would need the support, affection, creativity and dynaminism of the youth.

MUTC musings: Our world is currently facing complex, major and tough challenges. Apart from the Covid-19 pandemic, we are struggling in achieving world peace. While there have been previous efforts to achieve world peace, all well intended and with good intentions, however no enough action was undertaken, some of these resulted to mere pronouncements with some of the proposals ending up in archives. The United Nations can not even control the chaos among nations, hence it has been unsuccessful in completely delivering peace to the world. So, how can we individuals contribute in cultivating a culture of peace in our lives, our homes, our schools, our workplaces , our nation and our world? For peace to ever happen everywhere, it has to be a concerted effort, with participation of all, the youth and the older ones regardless of status in life. It is about time for us to get involved on this, to be instrument of peace, and it should start from within, from our homes and from ourselves. We know that achieving a culture of peace, i.e. complete eradication of conflict and violence, is no easy task. Disagreements and differences in opinions on certain issues will always be there, even in our daily mundane tasks, we encounter arguments and quarrels. But at the end of the day, we patched things up. Same thing on major issues, achieving peace should not be impossible. Dialogue and understanding are necessary. It’s all up to us, to all stakeholders. There are ways and means on how to do it. But it would definitely require a change of heart, true conversion, and humility, humility and more humility.

As such, once we start doing good and be involved in promoting peace within ourselves, starting in our families, it will have ripple effect on other members of the family and eventually on the society. This is where adults can positively help, influence and inspire the young generation to nurture their social-emotional intelligence, particularly during this pandemic where mental health related disorders have increased significantly in young adults and children. Lifting up our minds/hearts to God through prayers is the best weapon to end these current challenges such as the effects of global pandemic, violence, war and death, and even hatred and the continued polarization especially online and in social media . Some of us may not believe in the power of prayers, but merely teaching the children on how to be good, to pray, develop and practice virtues, especially among family members, would be the best thing the elderly can undertake for them, so that both generations can learn from each other and even pray together for lasting peace and for a better future for everyone.

  1. Investing in Education

Pope Francis mentioned in his message that there should be more investment in education coupled with the promotion of a “culture of care,” which could become “a common language working to break down barriers and build bridges.”

MUTC Musings: An English writer, philosopher and a lay theologian, G.K.Chesterton stated “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another”. This is true. Education is one legacy of parents to their children, particularly poor parents who would even go out of their way just to send their children to school. Through education, one gains knowledge and the same can be imparted to others. And if everyone has good education, the quality of life, more or less, will improve, thus having a more beautiful world for all.

Advocacies for education and capacity-building for peace should be supported by Governments around the world. Unfortunately, policy makers of some of the industrialized nations allocate more budgets, about trillions of dollars, in modernization and upgrade of military equipment and weaponry . If these funds can be re-programmed for research and development: say to avoid occurrence of global pandemic, to reduce disruptive impacts of natural calamities on communities, for good quality education and building infrastructures to generate employment, the playing field would be leveled and fair for everyone.

  1. Improving Labor Conditions

Pope Francis noted that only one in three people working today “enjoys a system of social protection, or benefit from it only in limited ways,” while violence and organized crime are rising in many places.

The Holy Father further noted that the “only answer to this is an expansion of dignified employment opportunities”. “ According to him labor is the foundation on which to build justice and solidarity in every community, and that “it is more urgent than ever to promote, throughout our world, a decent and dignified working conditions, oriented to the common good and to the safeguarding of creation.”

MUTC Musings: However, it’s a sad reality particularly in least developed and developing countries that more people are struggling to get decent paying jobs. In these places, there is still a wide gap between the rich and the poor. Thus, some of its people go abroad as migrant workers since they couldn’t get a job in their home country, leaving their families behind, and at times this unfortunate situation had even lead to family breakups. Some people are also forced to accept jobs with no pensions and retirement benefits just to put food on their tables. On the other hand, those children whose parents sent them to better and expensive schools, most often land in big-ticket companies or get the best and upper labor market, or even build their own companies themselves, after graduation. This is way far from those who could not afford college (prestigious ones), particularly whose adult parents have been laid-off from their jobs during this pandemic. Hopefully, this economic and social disparity between the rich and the poor, particularly in education and job employment, can be reduced/resolved and be eliminated eventually.

While it may seem “dreamy” to achieve World Peace, it is still possible and necessary so as to make this world a better place to live in. We can start the year right as instrument of peace by creating a God-centered family atmosphere. If and when true love and peace reign in our families, the same can be shared with positivity and happiness to our friends and may spread to other sectors of society as well. It is during these moments that our world needs prayer and meditation. It is only God who can give us the calming gift of and true peace in our hearts and in our world. If we have that inner peace and happiness in our hearts, then we can radiate these to others (and the society as a whole), bringing calmness and wisdom to them too.

A Happy and Peaceful 2022 to one and all! Isn’t it wonderful to start the year right, as bearer of peace, with a peaceful heart?

May true and lasting peace reign in our hearts. May Our New Year be filled with more blessings and graces from God. O Holy Mary, our hope, handmaid of the Lord, pray for us. Amen.

Note: This article has also been published in a magazine abroad by the same author. ctto for the featured photos.

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