Today the whole planet–at least the human part– celebrates the United Nations created International Day of Peace, first established in 1981.

This year’s theme honors the 70th anniversary of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights by suggesting “the right to peace”, a right not explicitly declared in the UDHR.

If we think of peace as a human right (the right not to be the victim of or a participant in war), I think we also have to extend the right to peace to community, family and individual relationships. How can we foster the local reconciliations, the forgiveness and sympathies big and small that are necessary for peace among people– of different races, genders, classes, religions, sexual orientations, political affiliations, etc. ?

In the United States at present there are forces at work, both political and technological, that are encouraging a near constant stream of antagonism, a verbal and governing aggressiveness that is dividing the nation. How do those of us interested in preserving democracy through truth and justice address the issues in a way that does not disturb the essential peace we need to prevent a damaging descent into stark division, censorship and possible violence?

I think we must not retreat into facile kinds of compromise, but, on the other hand, we should speak with care, be firm but calm and kindly, use humor and humility, keep our voices clear but not shrill or condemning. We should resist the temptation to cling to our various tribes while striving to silence the “enemy.” The goal is always peace, or as much peace as we can achieve amidst the inevitable human conflicts. To meet this goal, the means must justify and judge the ends, for only peaceable means will accomplish the sort of peaceable ends that have any chance of enduring both at home and abroad.

 

 

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