In the year 2000, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the first decade of the 21st century and the third millennium, the years 2001 to 2010, as the International Decade for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence. The action plan for the decade proposed eight spheres of activities in which to work for the promotion of the Culture of Peace:
- To reinforce a culture of peace through education
- To promote economically and socially sustainable development
- To promote the respect of all human rights
- To ensure the equality between women and men
- To support democratic participation
- To develop comprehension, tolerance and solidarity
- To support participative communication and the freedom of movement of information and knowledge
- To promote international peace and safety
Sadly, as the decade comes to a close, there are active declared and undeclared wars among various nations, fierce trade wars continue to rage, the world-wide economic crisis has fanned strong animosity between the rich and the poor, and the scourge of civil violence continues unabated –including terrorism, crime, domestic violence, and child abuse.
Perhaps the lofty goals of the United Nations resolution failed precisely because they were too ambitious. Peace can only begin with each individual making a commitment to refrain from harming other sentient beings.
Why not consider making a personal commitment to peace in one or more of these areas?
- Teach peace by example: refrain from reacting violently —in thought, word, or deed— to any person, object, or situation that elicits anger in you.
- Practice generosity: while the needs of the poor are many, and your personal resources may be scarce, make a firm and clear commitment to share your resources. Consider vowing to contribute a set percentage of your income (from 1% to 10%) to helping others.
- Offer respect —in thought, word, and deed— for those who are different, whether the difference is racial, ethnic, religious, political, social, sexual, or physical.
- Extend your commitment to fostering peace for all sentient beings by refraining from exploiting, killing, or otherwise harming animals for your pleasure. Consider eliminating or reducing your consumption of meat and other animal products.
- Reduce your consumption of energy, and recycle as much as possible.
Finally, please consider beginning and ending each day with this short Prayer:
May all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all embrace happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all abide in peace, free from self-grasping.
May all attain the union of wisdom and compassion.
Happy and Peaceful 2011!