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In today’s modern age, the idea of having peace in the world may seem difficult or unrealistic. But many people still continue to hope for a time in history when all of the humans on earth can just get along. 

World Day of Peace is dedicated to not only ending war, but bringing peace to the people of earth in a variety of ways. Whether it is regarding peace on a small scale between family members or a large scale between nations, this day is worth observing and celebrating!

History of World Day of Peace

Originally begun as a feast day of the Catholic Church, World Day of Peace was started in 1967 when Pope Paul VI established it as a day of universal peace. The hope that people of all nations, cultures, religions and backgrounds could work side by side in harmony is an inspiring thought. And this day is one that puts meaningful messages and actions behind the thought. 

Each year, on World Day of Peace, the leader of the Catholic church often gives a speech to his followers in honor of this day. Subjects often include not only peace, as in the absence of war, but also offers messages of social doctrine.

These declarations have also included topics like human rights, the right to life, international diplomacy, economic development, labor unions, women’s rights, peace in the Holy Land (meaning Israel), terrorism and globalization. As all of these topics are, in some way or another, related to the idea of peace, they represent small ways that humans can work toward resolving these issues in honor of World Day of Peace.

As the efforts toward peace continue all over the world, each individual can do their part by raising awareness and observing World Day of Peace.

World Day of Peace Timeline

1919

Paris Peace Conference convenes 

A formal meeting of the victorious Allies following World War I, this conference set terms and made treaties that rearranged maps–and created resentments that did not lead to lasting peace.[1]

1945

United Nations is founded to pursue world peace 

Following the second world war, this organization is created to promote economic development, social progress, international security, human rights and, ultimately, peace on the globe.[2]

1963

Pacem in Terris is issued by Pope John XXIII

This circular letter focuses on the rights and responsibilities of individuals as well as the state.[3]

1967

World Day of Peace is established 

Inspired by the Pacem in Terris, Pope Paul VI, establishes January 1 as a day for people worldwide to work toward universal peace.[4]

1991

Michael Jackson releases “Heal the World” song 

In an effort toward unity and world peace, pop star Michael Jackson releases the song and later starts a charity called the Heal the World Foundation.[5]

How to Celebrate World Day of Peace

Honoring and celebrating World Day of Peace can be a creative adventure. Try out some of the ideas to move forward with appreciating the day:

Join in on Peace Activities in the Community

Of course, World Peace can be aimed for by individuals but, working together, people can often achieve much more and move further in their causes. Some communities might hold different peace activities in connection with the World Day of Peace.

Perhaps this could mean attending a lecture or meeting with discussions along the lines of peace. Or it might mean a group of people getting together to volunteer in their community in ways that might tear down bridges between cultures, racial or economic barriers.

Host a World Day of Peace Gathering

Those who can’t find pre-existing activities or events related to World Day of Peace in their communities might choose to hold one themselves. Invite in a few speakers, have round table discussions or hold entertainment that can raise money for a peaceful charity. This is a great time to encourage participation by people who have different beliefs, cultures and backgrounds so they can all come together in an effort toward peace and understanding.

Listen to a Peace-Themed Playlist

Whether putting it on with headphones for a morning run or playing it in the breakroom at work in honor of World Day of Peace, try making a playlist with songs and lyrics that promote peace and harmony. Get started with some of these songs:

  • I Wish You Peace by The Eagles (1975). Released on the One of these Nights album, this song was written by Bernie Leadon and his then-girlfriend Patti Davis (who was the daughter of former US president Ronald and Nancy Reagan).
  • One Day by Matisyahu (2009). The lyrics of this song speak directly to the idea and hope that someday there will be no war and people “won’t wanna fight no more”. Matisyhau is a Jewish reggae, rap, beatbox and alternative rock musician.
  • Imagine by John Lennon (1971). A quintessential classic song to be on a playlist about peace, Imagine was the best selling single of Lennon’s solo career and it seems that it was partially written by his partner, Yoko Ono.
  • Peace Train by Cat Stevens (1971). Written during the Vietnam War, this song represents the wish for peace by so many people in that era. A popular cover was released by Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs in 1987.

Practice a Moment of Silence

Many people like to acknowledge World Day of Peace by participating in a moment of silence. This silence might represent those whose lives have been lost or damaged by war, or for dreaming of what a world of peace in the future might look like. This moment of silence is often observed at 12 noon in all of the time zones around the globe.

Read a Book About World Peace

Education is a vitally important way that people can gain understanding of one another which, ultimately, can lead to living at peace with each other. Try some of these books that might offer a shift in thinking or create connections for people trying to understand one another and find peace:

  • The Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done Across Cultures by Eric Meyer (2016). This unique book offers insight into cultures work, particularly within international business but also within relationships. 
  • Opting Out of War: Strategies to Prevent Violent Conflict by Mary B. Anderson and Marshall Wallace (2013). For “ordinary people” (neither peace activists or pacifists) who are searching for ways to avoid violent conflict and help keep their regions violence and war free. 
  • Making Peace Last: A Toolbox for Sustainable Peacebuilding by Robert Ricigliano (2012). This book offers ways for communities and countries to improve peacebuilding in theory, analysis and practice, so that peace can be made sustainable and long-lasting in societies today. 
  • Across the Lines of Conflict: Facilitating Cooperation to Build Peace by Michael Lund and Steve McDonald (2015). Using case studies of resolving conflict in places like Burundi, Estonia and Cyprus, this book offers techniques and initiatives that have helped to bring peace and harmony to difficult places.

World Day of Peace FAQs

Who is the founder of World Day of Peace?

World Day of Peace was founded by Catholic Pope Paul VI in an effort to work toward world peace.[1]

When did Peace Day start?

World Day of Peace was started in 1967 and has been celebrated annually since then.[2]

What are the most peaceful countries in the world?

According to the Global Peace Index, Iceland, New Zealand, Portugal, Austria and Denmark.[3]

Have we ever had world peace?

Of the last 3400 years of recorded human history, the world has had only 268 years that were entirely at peace.[4]

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