Last night at the Wealthy Street Theatre in Grand Rapids, the Military Service Dialog Committee of the Institute for Global Education (IGE) showed the film Peace One Day to an audience of around 30 people. The film chronicles the efforts of British filmmaker Jeremy Gilley to establish a fixed date for the United Nations’ International Peace Day, which prior to the efforts of Gilley, was a rotating date that coincided with the opening of the United Nations and thus was rarely commemorated outside of the United Nations. After several years of writing letters and organizing within the United Nations, a United Nations resolution (A/Res/55/282) was passed fixing the date of International Peace Day to September 21 and establishing it as “an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence.” The establishment of the date had the unfortunate consequence of coinciding with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and with the global “war on terror” it has not been observed as a day of global ceasefire.
Following the film there was a brief discussion in which members of the audience shared their reactions to the film and explored ways in which Grand Rapids could join the millions of people that will participate in this year’s International Peace Day . The reaction to the film was overwhelmingly positive, with audience members sharing a variety of ideas to commemorate the day locally ranging from holding a Peace Presence vigil on the 21st to the simple idea of serving coffee to someone that is important to you. Two college professors in attendance announced that they will likely show the film to their students and the event organizers shared that they will hold a September 21st event at a location to be determined. Citing the “successes” of the Peace One Day campaign in using celebrities and concerts as a means of generating support, the local celebration will incorporate music as a means of making peace “entertaining.” There was no discussion about challenging the institutions or states that make a day of global ceasefire that make war a necessity, nor was there any discussion of moving beyond one day of ceasefire towards a world without war. For more information on local International Peace Day Activities, watch the Media Mouse calendar or contact IGE.