Every year, beginning in 1982, the UN has observed today, September 21, as an International Day of Peace. Peoples in conflict, all over the world are called upon to cease combat, if only temporarily, so that, in the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, we may “create space for lasting peace.”
For those of us who are not intimately affected by war, this kind of plea can sound very far off and inapplicable to our daily lives, but for me, it could not have been more apropos.
Just last night, I once more looked at myself disapprovingly in the mirror, seeing all the faults, the failures, the could-have-beens, the wrinkles, the fat . . . falling deeper and deeper down into the abyss of self-hatred.
All of a sudden, I couldn’t help wondering, “Why do you insist on making war on yourself?”
The answer is simple: It’s a terribly misguided attempt to protect myself from the pain of others’ possible condemnation and to spur myself into life-changing action.
But it doesn’t work. Heavy rain cannot intimidate seeds into growing faster. It will simply wash them away. And harsh sun will only dry them out. It is only with the gentle encouragement of these elements that a seed may eventually find its way to blooming.
So last night, I vowed to make peace with myself. To be kind. And today, realizing the significance of the date, I make the vow again. Because sustainable world peace is an inside job. Each of us needs to decide to stop fighting—not only each other, but ourselves.