Peace Day 2023

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” This was written by Eleanor Roosevelt in her book You Learn By Living, published in 1960.

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

What does it look like to “work at peace” for a child, for a school, for us adults?

The International Day of Peace, or World Peace Day, was established in 1981 by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. Two decades later, in 2001, the General Assembly unanimously voted to designate the day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire.

This year, 2023, also marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. When we think about enormous topics like genocide, war, violations of human rights, and ecological devastation, we may feel disconnected from what this means in our daily lives. But these realities are right here.

In 2022, hate crimes rose nationwide by 22%, in California by 20%, and in Ventura County by 11.4%. This is happening in our community. We must rely on the strength of our interconnectedness to stand up in the smaller moments of casual cruelty – moments when derogatory language is used irresponsibly or thoughtlessly, or perhaps even maliciously, by our peers. Words can be seeds of pain and violence, and they can certainly be barriers to belonging. As a school, as parents, and as decent human beings, we can, and should, shine a bright light on hate and violence in all its forms.

The 2023 Peace Day Universal Declaration, as set forth by the UN, reads: “The International Day of Peace encourages all youth to be ambitious in their engagement as positive and constructive social agents, to join the movement to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and contribute to building sustainable peace. Together we can help to lead our world towards a greener, more equitable, just, and secure future for all.”

At Oak Grove, we acknowledged World Peace Day with a week-long exploration into the notion of peace. Throughout campus, we celebrated Peace Week within the classroom curriculum, through the construction of a collaborative art installation titled “Our Garden of Responsibility,” culminating in an all-school assembly last Friday. Although an anti-bias curriculum is woven throughout everyday learning at Oak Grove, teachers dedicated more explicit time to anti-bias learning and exploring our shared responsibility for our world.

It is not enough to talk about peace. We must work at it.

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