Peace One Day
Working together for peace in the world
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to reflect on how we can all work for peace in our world.
Preparation and materials
You will need the following YouTube videos and the means to show them during the assembly:
- ‘Make Me a Channel of Your Peace’ by Sinead O’Connor, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnhhLWOKUeA. It is 2.36 minutes long.
- ‘The Day After Peace’ (the trailer for the film made by Jeremy Gilley for Peace One Day), available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A85s5ZOTSXk. It is 1.49 minutes long.
You will also need the PowerPoint slides (Peace One Day) that accompany this assembly and the means to display them.
This assembly commemorates the international Peace One Day event that is held each year on 21 September.
Show Slide 1.
This campaign is recognized by the United Nations and has been growing in popularity since 1999. In 2015, it was estimated that 709 million people worldwide were aware of Peace One Day.
This day sprang from an idea that a man called Jeremy Gilley had in 1998. Jeremy, an actor and film-maker, had a vision to have one day of the year where people all around the world worked for peace and where people behaved more peacefully towards one another.
Jeremy Gilley produced a film about Peace One Day. This is the trailer for that film.
Show the YouTube video ‘The Day After Peace’.
(Please note that what the Peace One Day campaign achieved in Afghanistan will be considered later in the assembly.)
- So what is ‘peace’ and is it important?
Show Slide 2.
The United Nations defines a culture of peace as ‘all the values, attitudes and forms of behaviour that reflect respect for life, for human dignity and for all human rights, the rejection of violence in all its forms and commitment to the principles of freedom, justice, solidarity, tolerance and understanding between people.’
Peace means respecting others and working towards fairness and understanding. It is more than just avoiding war.
The religions of the world have much to teach us about peace. Peace should be very important to people of faith.
Show Slide 3.
Jesus taught that to work for peace is to be blessed. It is important for Christians to strive for a world where people are treated with respect and dignity and where hatred and violence are not used as the answer to problems.
Show Slide 4.
Within Buddhism, it is important to use words that bring about peace. Our words should not hurt or harm, but should bring about help, support and encouragement.
Show Slide 5.
In Islam, this quotation tells us that two people who are arguing or in conflict should seek peace and reconciliation.
Is peace ever possible? We might feel hopeless when we think about the ideal of having a world at peace.
Is the idea of ‘Peace One Day’ an impossibility?
Perhaps the story of the starfish can help us here.
Show Slide 6.
An old man walked along a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm.
A young girl was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean.
‘Why do you bother?’ the old man asked. ‘You’re not saving enough to make a difference.’
The young girl picked up another starfish, sent it spinning back to the water and said, ‘It made a difference to that one.’
This story teaches us that our small actions can make a difference. Many people around the world performing small acts of peace CAN make a difference.
Show Slide 7.
Lyndon B. Johnson said, ‘Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time.’
What small steps towards peace can you take today?
Show Slide 8.
Mother Teresa said, ‘Peace begins with a smile.’
Could we commit - as a way to commemorate Peace One Day in 2017 - to smile at others?
Time for reflection
There are other simple, small, practical steps that we can all take towards peace.
As the following list is read out, let’s listen to the suggestions and consider whether we could commit to this year’s Peace One Day.
Read through the list slowly, pausing after each suggestion to allow for thought and reflection.
- Listening carefully to others - so that we really understand what they are saying and what they feel.
- Seeking to use words to talk through issues, rather than seeking revenge.
- Sharing what we have with others.
- Being respectful of people who are different to ourselves.
- Helping with charity work, donating time or money to help make our society fairer.
So - did the Peace One Day campaign achieve anything in Afghanistan?
Yes! According to the UN figures, on 21 September 2008, there was a 70 per cent reduction in violent incidents. This enabled teams of health workers to access children and administer vaccines against deadly diseases including polio, meningitis, diphtheria and tetanus. This simple act of having a day committed to peace resulted in actions that will have a lasting impact on the people of Afghanistan. Peace One Day continues to have similar effects in other areas of the world.
We ask you to bless the efforts of Peace One Day this September.
We ask you to move in the hearts of those involved in military conflict, that they might have the courage and encouragement to lay down their weapons.
We also ask you to move in the hearts of those who seek to hurt others through unkind words and actions.
We pray for a fairer society: one in which each person is respected and valued.
Help us to find a sense of peace and serenity in our studies and relationships.
Alternatively, you may prefer to use the YouTube video ‘Make Me a Channel of Your Peace’ as a prayer.