Remarks given by Jeanne Bedwell on Sunday, September 20, 2009 at the Salem Presbyterian Church, Salem, Indiana

International Day of Peace

The International Day of Peace, Peace Day, provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date. It was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981 and first celebrated in September 1982. In 2002 the General Assembly officially declared September 21 as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace.

To inaugurate the day, the “Peace Bell” is run at UN Headquarters. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents. It was given as a gift by the Diet of Japan, and is referred to as “a reminder of the human cost of war.” The inscription on its side reads: “Long live absolute world peace.”

Anyone, anywhere can celebrate Peace Day. It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, or just sitting in silent prayer. Or, it can involve getting your co-workers, organization, community, or government engaged in a larger event.

International Day of Peace is also a Day of Ceasefire—personal or political. Take this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as to impact the larger conflicts of our time.

My beloved daughter-in-law, Shinobu Arai Apple, was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan. She is a “birthright” member of Sokka Gakkai and both she and my son Jim Apple are active members of SGI.

I would like to share two quotes from Presdient Daisaku Ikeda, a Buddhist philosopher, peacebuilder, educator, author, and poet. He is the third president of the Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist organization and the founding president of the Soka Gakkai International [SGI], a large and diverse lay Buddhist organization, promoting a philosophy of character development and social engagement for peace.

The central tenant of Ikeda’s thought, and of Buddhism, is the fundamental sanctity of life, a value which Ikeda sees as the key to lasting peace and human happiness. In his view, global peace relies ultimately on a self-directed transformation within the life of the individual, rather than on societal or structural reform alone.

“World peace is not something that can be realized simply by politicians signing treaties, or by business leaders creating economic cooperation. True and lasting peace will be realized only by forging bonds of trust between people at the deepest level, in the depths of their very lives.”

President Ikeda’s oldest brother died in Burma in WWII. In an essay called “A Piece of Mirror,” he wrote of his mother’s crushing grief at the loss of her son.

“War brings only suffering and misery to ordinary people, to families and mothers. It is always nameless and unknown people who suffer and moan amidst the mud and flames. In war, human life is used as a means to an end, an expendable commodity. It is said that it takes 20 years of peace to make a man, but only 20 seconds to destroy him. This is why we must always oppose war—neither engaging in it ourselves nor permitting others to do so. All rivalries and conflicts must be resolved, not through power, but with wisdom, and through dialogue.”

A Christian version of the idea of a “self-directed transformation in the life of each individual,” comes to us in the Peace Prayer of St. Francis. The first appearance of the Peace Prayer occurred in France in 1912 in a small spiritual magazine called La Clochette (The Little Bell).

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


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