Today – September 21 – is International Day of Peace, a date that the General Assembly of the United Nations has declared as a day “devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.” And never in the 43 years that I’ve been alive has the world more seemed to need a day dedicated to just that … for the whole world to stop, take a deep breath and just let each other be and give humanity the benefit of the doubt.
Isn’t that one of the chief reasons we travel? To make connections with people we would not have had a chance to otherwise and to experience firsthand the realization that as different as other people living elsewhere may seem from afar, they’re really a lot like you and me with the same basic motivations, hopes and concerns.
Maybe I’m speaking more about myself here, projecting my own reasons to travel onto everybody else who’s ever stepped foot outside their home. But, I’m certain most folks who’ve hit the road more than once would have to agree. For me, the best moments of a journey so often have been the encounters with strangers: when a misunderstanding turned to an opportunity to share a laugh, when misfortune was taken as the chance to better someone else’s situation, when a wondrous moment was shared, when I made a new friend.
The overwhelmingly key lesson learned from the time I’ve spent roaming round the planet has been that the golden rule is universal. Most people are good people. Beyond glowing sunsets, lavish feasts, occasional luxury, and the general exhilaration associated with being somewhere other than where I usually tend to be, it’s the people who make a place special.
I have no answers to solving global conflict, but I feel if more people aimed to interact positively with strangers on a more regular basis and allowed themselves to be a stranger themselves, then the world would be a much better, and more peaceful, place.
So, an International Day of Peace? Celebrate it. We need it now more than we have in a very long time.