For World Peace Day, which was Friday, September 21, 2012, Pax Populi wanted to draw attention to and honor Afghanistan’s many peacemakers. Despite all the bad news we hear in connection with Afghanistan, there has been a lot of progress there in recent years. In the end, the key to peace in Afghanistan lies with the Afghans themselves — especially those who are leading the effort to create a new and stable country. Across Afghanistan there are many teachers, social workers, healthcare workers, NGO volunteers, entrepreneurs, human rights and anti-corruption activists, and many others struggling to create a new and stable Afghanistan but who are largely overlooked by the outside world, while all the attention is given to the people of violence.
To honor Afghanistan’s home-grown peacebuilders, we at Pax Populi did two things: we asked people to post on the Pax Populi Facebook page and we asked people around the world to express their support for Afghan peacemakers by signing an online petition. By the end of Peace Day, we had signers from at least 17 countries — including Afghanistan, Australia, and Azerbaijan Canada, China, Denmark, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zimbabwe.
In the United States, students from Bentley University in Waltham, MA, were particularly active in mobilizing support through campus based activities. In Europe, Ms. Danielle Bonner, in Donegal, Ireland led our efforts through the social media of Twitter and Facebook.
In this one day, many touching photos were posted on the Pax Populi Facebook page from many places including Ireland, South Korea, France, India, England, Spain, and the United States, some of which were assembled in the collages below.
We undertook these Peace Day activities not as a major project, but as a way to build awareness, especially internationally, that in Afghanistan there are many people who are working hard to help their country, often laboring at great risk to themselves. We realize that our Peace Day program might be considered “merely symbolic,” but given the current state of frenzied turmoil in the world, it is clear that symbols are important and can be a source of hope or an incitement to violence. The message that emerged from the Pax Populi Peace Day activities was this: the forces of peace and brotherhood are strong and growing in Afghanistan and around the world.
To all the people working for peace in Afghanistan, we want you to know that your efforts are admired and appreciated. And in that spirit, it is our intention in the months ahead to provide information through our website and social media about individuals and organizations who are hard at work to build a strong and stable Afghanistan.
Some might ask why we bother. Our answer is this: like it or not, we live in a globalized world and we need to learn to live together. We owe it to ourselves, our neighbors, and the next generation to continue on the good quest to build societies in which conflicts and problems are resolved without violence.
For all of you who joined in our Peace Day programs, either by signing the petition or by posting on Facebook, we give you our heartfelt thanks. There is a long struggle ahead before we see the realization of a peaceful Afghanistan, but despite the setbacks, we are firm in our confidence in Afghanistan and its struggle for peace.
Again, our thanks everyone who supported our Peace Day program — your encouragement was inspiring!