I am not a history student. Nor am I a history buff, aficionado, or particularly knowledgeable about the Spanish American war. Indeed, the only lasting impression history ever made on me was the recurring dream I used to have of walking into my high school and being told by some random kid in the hallway that I had a history final in 20 minutes -- a fact I found extremely unnerving because not only hadn't I read the ominous-looking history book, I never went to a single class that semester.
That being said, there is one thing I do find remarkable about history. Ever since the beginning of recorded time there has never been a day when that hasn't been at least one war being waged somewhere in the world.
I find this odd.
I mean, here we are on this beautiful planet of ours floating through infinite space -- a planet teeming with oceans, rivers, rainforests, sunrises, roses, laughter, the music of Mozart, ice cream, dancing, lovemaking, full moons, sushi, snowflakes (no two alike) and the ecstatic poetry of Rumi and there has never been a time when at least one war wasn't been waged? Really?
Great Masters have come and gone. Enlightened sages and saints have done their enlightened sage and saint-like thing. Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King have won the hearts of millions and we're still spending our time dreaming up new ways to kill each other?
Historically challenged as I may be, there's one thing I know for sure: Peace is not going to be a function of government intervention. Governments have had thousands of years to get their act together and what do they have to show for it? Taxes? Parking meters? Mind-numbing bureaucracy? At best, they've brokered a few cease fires. But cease fires, even though they're better than nothing, are not peace. Cease fires are merely the pregnant pause in between wars.
Peace is not going to come from our governments. Peace is going to come from somewhere else -- and that somewhere else is the people who elect (or inherit) the governments that rule this world.
Paul Hawken, social activist, environmentalist, and author of Blessed Unrest, calls this the "movement with no name" -- a paean to the essential goodness at the heart of humanity, but a goodness that requires meaningful and sustained action if anything is actually going to change for the better.
If you doubt this groundswell, all you need to do is tune into the exponentially growing number of people rallying around the UN-declared International Day of Peace on September 21st. Each year the numbers grow, big time. And the roots of this globally supported event go all the way back to 1981.
Supercharged by the work of such established organizations as Pathways to Peace, Peace One Day, Words of Peace Global, and many emerging ones like San Miguel de Allende's Camino de la Paz, the International Day of Peace has become a kind of social activist's maypole around which millions of people are dancing, raising their voices, raising awareness, and raising the possibility of peace. But not just peace on the outside where the symptoms of discord manifest. Peace on the inside, too, where discord begins -- in the fevered minds of human beings.
Intrigued? Inspired? Want to get on the peace train, regardless of your politics, philosophy, or religion? Fantastic. There are thousands of ways to get involved.
To begin with, think local. Start exploring what is already in motion in your own community, village, town, or city. Find the people already plugged in to the International Day of Peace and let them know you want to help.
Or, if you'd rather participate virtually, you can submit a peace-themed video to PeaceCast, a global group of inspired volunteers who will be curating and broadcasting a 48-hour peace-themed livestream wherever it happens to be September 21st on planet Earth -- a round-the-clock transmission with something for everyone.
The bottom line? Peace is up to each and every one of us. Or, as one wise pundit put it many years ago: "If not YOU who, if not NOW, when?"