(Lynn Bartley chairs the 2021 PeaceQuest planning committee and is past president of the Greater Lansing United Nations Association. She also serves as the Great Lakes representative, United Nations Association-USA National Council. Tom Oswald is a member of the 2021 PeaceQuest planning committee and a former board member of the Peace Education Center.)
It was 40 years ago this month that the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared Sept. 21 to be an International Day of Peace, a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.
It was six years ago that United Nations Association - Greater Lansing (GL-UNA) invited area organizations to join in its recognition of this day. PeaceQuest Greater Lansing (https://PeaceQuestGreaterLansing.org/) was formed, beginning with a half-day event that has grown into a month full of activities that promote peace and, more importantly, encourage all of us to get involved in this world-saving effort.
PQ activities are many and varied, including talks from leaders of the peace movement on such issues as militarism and climate change; panel discussions; a poetry reading; a peace hike followed by yoga; and training in de-escalating violent situations.
PQ also lets area residents of all ages tap into their creative energies.
• The Art Challenge 2021 calls on students to produce art based on the theme “Challenges, Feelings and Takeaways from COVID-19.”
• Create Your Own Peace Pallet calls on folks to design and create a work of art from wooden pallets.
• One of the more popular events is the Peace Pole Pursuit, in which area peace lovers seek out peace poles and have their pictures taken with them.
For a full list of PQ events, visit https://peacequestgreaterlansing.org/events-schedule/.
We all know that our involvement in promoting peace in our community and our world can’t be limited to one day or one month. It’s imperative that each of us makes the commitment to work for peace and justice all year long.
Easier said than done, right? Here are a few suggestions for things we all can do once September’s PeaceQuest events come to a close.
Perhaps first and foremost, VOTE. Support candidates at all levels who will work to support the rights of all citizens, strive for justice and equity, and embrace the diversity that blesses our community and country every day.
CONTACT. Stay in touch with your representatives at all levels of government to tell them what you as their constituent want them to support. Don’t be shy. It’s a cliché but true: They work for us.
JOIN: Get involved and support organizations that are involved in peace efforts. There are many to be found in the Lansing area, including the Peace Education Center (https://www.peaceedcenter.org/), the Greater Lansing United Nations Association (https://gluna.org/), the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence (https://michigancoalitiontopreventgunviolence.org/), as well as churches and other faith-based organizations.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”
Now, more than ever, we have to find that path to peace. But we can’t do it alone. Working for peace is a team effort.
Please take advantage of the many and varied events that make up PeaceQuest 2021. And once September turns into October and beyond, continue to be involved. We’re depending on you. The world is too.