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VOICES: International Day of Peace, September 21, 2022

In 1981 the United Nations , with no objections, created, proclaimed September 21 of each year as THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE. The current Secretary General of UN Antonio Guterres, from Portugal, has requested a world wide cease fire on that day. The theme for this year is to end racism.

For me, every day is universal peace day and I know that at every moment I get to choose peace and to see all other beings without judgment . I get to choose to feel safe and free.

In elementary school in New Jersey we went on class trip into Manhattan to the United Nations building. I was inspired by words on the wall of General Assembly hall.

“And every man (everyone) beneath their vine and fig tree shall live in peace and unafraid. And into plowshares turn their swords, nations shall know war no more.”

Yet, we were being warned about the potential nuclear attack. The news most often showed some violent conflict somewhere. Then John Kennedy was assassinated.

Then Martin Luther King, Jr and Bobby Kennedy were shot down, as I graduated from high school and went to college to stay out of war in Vietnam.

People who know me know that I work hard at creating an island wide celebration of Martin Luther King Day each year under the umbrella of The Interfaith Round Table of Kaua’i (IROK). I am now involved in planning events for Sept. 21 and Sept. 24 which will take place at Mark Jeffer’s Storybook Theatre and at the Soto Zen Buddhist temple and grounds, ALL in Hanapepe.

Behind Story Book Theatre is a peace garden with a statue of United States Senator Sparks Matsunaga. Senator Matsunaga who was a decorated hero in World War II, is known especially for three accomplishments that took many (20+) years of hard effort. He got reparations for Japanese Americans interred in camps during WWII, and was instrumental in creating a peace institute in Washington DC and the U.S Poet Laureate position. SO, celebrating and studying how we can create, live in, experience Peace is a highly appropriate way to spend those days in September in that garden. I envision that many of you will join me there. Call me or text me or email me if you would like to participate in any way. Sooner is better.

I will be off island in retreat (studying, practicing peace) from Aug. 14 to Sept. 10.

When I return we will be finishing preparations, so now is the time to jump in.

The other, larger venue, has the beautiful large Quan Yin next to a Bodhi Tree.

What a perfect place for us to proclaim, pray for, and demonstrate peace. Look for details of events there. And there is need for volunteers prior to, during , and cleanup of event that always includes the making of paper peace cranes in our schools and else where that are displayed. Event always ends with a dramatic fire ceremony that will most likely be culmination of events at 5:30 pm on Saturday Sept 24. And Taiko drummers, children’s art and poetry, musicians or choirs and inspirational speakers are highly likely, along with just gathering together which has become even more sacred in past few years.

The BIG question for me is why does war and conflict persist in us humans? The only answer I come up with is FEAR. One acronym for FEAR is FALSE Evidence Appearing Real. If we breath deeply and count our blessings and change any belief we have that the world or some OTHER is dangerous, then we can begin to see that there is enough food, housing, and most importantly LOVE for all of us,. Conflict becomes an absurd waste of time and life in that light.

I was watching National Park Documentary narrated by former President Obama and noticed that every episode has a PG rating of FEAR at beginning. I guess this is because some of the wild animals eat each other or fight over mates or territory.

I wondered if they put this PG rating on the opening of NEWS shows which are truly frightening.

Mahalo NUI LOA for your kokua

And remember, “Let there be peace on earth (and beyond) and let it begin with me”

Ahhh and the 10 Commandments, too. The one about not killing particularly, and not coveting and taking time out to remember.

In July, the Muslim Holy Day of Ad el Aida was celebrated that is based on the same biblical story that is read at Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew Lunar year and at some point in Christian liturgical year. The story is about Abraham being commanded by God to sacrifice his son. The Muslim Holiday is based around the concept that even if God commands you IT IS NEVER OK to KILL.

Consider taking the day off on this Autumnal Equinox which is a day of balance and dedicating it to creating Peace Now!


Steve Backinoff is a resident of Kapa‘a.
Source: The Garden Island

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