International Day of Peace

The Things That Make for Peace

Creating Development Goals That Bring Peace to All People’s Lives

The Things That Make for Peace
Corn field in Malawi.

As we reach the midpoint of 2014, crises of food, water, the environment, economics and climate rule the day. Inequalities are exacerbated as business and government interests trump those of the public. According to Oxfam’s new report “Working for the Few,” the top 85 most wealthy persons hold as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of the earth’s population. According to the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees, the number of displaced people (refugees) has topped 50 million for the first time since World War II, an increase of more than 6 million from last year. The majority of the world’s displaced people are women and children.

Billions of people are disproportionately suffering with little power over the things that make or break their lives, while a few maintain control of the resources of the world. Violent conflicts erupt, taking lives, destroying families and societies, and quickly wiping out any development gains. In Africa alone, 15 years of conflict has cost over $300 billion. The 2014 U.S. Department of Defense Budget provides $526.6 billion for military operations, not including so-called ‘aid’ given to countries to finance armed conflicts. These sums dwarf the $11.1 billion budget of the U.N. Development Program. Women and children are largely economically and socially unprotected, and thus disproportionately affected by armed crises while being underfunded by development programs.

The injustice and increasing inequality between peoples is simply unsustainable. This unsustainability is not abstract; it is reflected economically, socially, psychologically, politically and environmentally.  Despite some progress following the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) instituted by the U.N. in 2000, poverty, injustice, inequality, natural disasters and conflicts continue to affect us all, and a just peace seems elusive. Something is wrong.   

We need a development paradigm that is dedicated to reversing and reconciling historic injustices, including wealthy nations’ environmental crimes. We need a development agenda which decreases inequality while increasing the basic quality and peacefulness of all people’s lives. A just and sustainable development plan for the earth and her people is critical for peace.

Because the Millennium Development Goals are due to expire in 2015, the world community embarked on a journey to design post-2015 development goals. We hope these will transform the current bureaucratic disorder into a people-centered, human rights based, and implementable set of goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals. It will be a challenge.

These sustainable development goals – which will come to the table at the U.N. General Assembly in September 2014, closely following the International Day of Peace, must be about Things That Make for Peace. Only in a peaceful society can sustainable development hold momentum. And only in a global context where everyone has their primary and secondary needs met through a just development plan will peace take hold.

Some Questions to Consider:

  • In Luke 19:42, as Jesus looked out over Jerusalem, he wept and cried out, “Would that you knew the things this day that make for peace!”
  • In the Bible study, you’ll find a synthesis of some of what scripture says makes for peace. Name some of those qualities of life here.
  • How are you or your work affected by these principles of Biblical peace?
  • At the U.N., on the International Day of Peace observance, we will be looking at how people’s access to water, food and health are affected by the cross-cutting issues of women’s participation, climate change, and current development rules and laws.
  • What are your ideas about these cross-cutting issues and peace in your world or nearby worlds?
  • What specific actions do you think are essential for an economic development that makes sure that everyone has food, water and access to health care in your family, your neighborhood, your town, your state, your nation?
  • While you’re thinking about that, does it matter who is making the decisions, who should be at the table?
  • What about at the global level? Who should have a seat at the development table? Who is right now making these global decisions? And why does it matter?
  • How is income inequality linked to the lack of peace in your family or neighborhood?
  • What is meant by a “just peace”? how is this different than a lack of war?
  • How would the world change if the globe’s 852 million hungry people simply were able to grow, afford and access good, culturally appropriate foods for their families?
  • What  are the things that support conflict and deteriorate people’s ability to feed their families? And what helps this to happen?
  • What do you think about guaranteeing that every human being has water in their home and place of work, whether they could afford it or not?
  • What is one thing that you could do in your community to foster peace this week?
    Write it down and send it to:
    International Day of Peace
    Church Center for the United Nations
    777 United Nations Plaza, 11th floor
    New York, NY 10017

Posted or updated: 8/16/2014 11:00:00 PM
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