The Culture of Peace

Below is a reflection on the International Day of Peace by Rochelle Rawls-Shaw, intern at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

I read on a card I picked up at the United Nations, “Everything that is needed to build a culture of peace already exists in each of us.” The UN defines a Culture of Peace as a set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups, communities and nations.

The Presbyterian Book of Common worship offers many prayers for the world and I will share 2 of them with you today. The first one is a Prayer for Peace:

Lord Christ, at times we are like strangers on this earth, taken aback by all the violence and the harsh oppositions. Like a gentle breeze, you breathe upon us the Spirit of peace. Transform the deserts of our doubts, and prepare us to be bearers of reconciliation wherever you place us, until the day when the hope of peace dawns in our world.  Amen.

A Prayer for World Unity:

God, you love justice and you establish peace on earth. We bring before you the disunity of today’s world; the illogical violence and senseless conflicts,  are breaking the spirits of the people of the world; militarism and the arms race, threaten all life on our planet; Human greed and injustice, breed hatred and strife. Send your Spirit to renew the face of the earth; Teach each one of us to be compassionate toward the whole human family; Strengthen the will of all those who fight for justice and for peace. Grant us peace that the world cannot give. Amen.

Last Friday I attended the afternoon High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace at the UN. The final two speakers spoke of Power – the Power of Prayer and the Power of the People. What touched me and everyone else in the room came from the final speaker. It engaged everybody.

There was a color copy of each member state flag on a sheet of paper at each seat. She asked everyone to stand and raise their flags in unison. They complied. Some people held flags from other countries.  Then she began to chant “There ain’t no power like the power of the people ‘cause the power of the people won’t stop.” She invited everyone in the room to raise their voices in unison and chant with her. They complied; including the other panelists and the moderator. Everyone was chanting and waving their flags and continued the chant. When she stopped, everyone applauded and reached out to one another shaking hands and in some cases embracing one another.

Let us continue to exercise our power as the people. Let us continue to exercise the power of prayer for our world. Let us use them to guide us toward a culture of peace.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)