There’s an old adage which references the clustering of positive experiences, happening in close order to each other, as, ‘all Christmases coming at once’. It implies the recipient has never had it so good. An abundance of wonders to celebrate, a cup running over with delights.

This years International Day of Peace message from the Secretary General of the UN in acknowledging the global complexion in 2021, spins that idiom on its head. Rarely has the international world shared in such an unsettled landscape of multiple challenge and threat.

The Secretary General describes this years International Day of Peace as “coming at a crisis point for humanity”.  We have been living under the cloud of COVID-19 for almost two years now, with little sign of the pandemic being contained.  Conflict and the threat of conflict can be witnessed across the globe.  The gap between the haves and have-nots is widening along with the degree of disregard. Levels of mistrust are deepening. Previously stable beacons of democracy and internationalism are straining under insidious political infection. The wheels seem to be coming off. 

Just one of these issues would be challenge enough, but inside this vacuum of humanity at its most destructive, the world is also screaming for attention. With the plethora of competing issues, environmental challenges and climate change have been forced even further from the front page of our daily concerns. 

In his message for peace for 2021, the Secretary General states that, “as a human family, we face a stark choice — peace or perpetual peril. We must choose peace”.

If all of our Christmases are to have a chance of gathering again at some point in the future our commitments need to change. We need to stop looking inward and at our feet, we need to lift our heads, open our eyes and minds and combine in our efforts to combat the challenges we face and we can address.

Mr Guterres says that by, “working in solidarity for a lasting, sustainable peace every day, we can tackle the issues facing us. We need peace to urgently deliver lifesaving vaccines and treatment for COVID-19. We need peace to recover from the pandemic and re-build shattered systems and shattered lives. We need peace to level the playing field and reduce inequalities. We need peace to renew trust in one another — and faith in facts and science. And we need to make peace with nature — to heal our planet, build a green economy, and achieve our net-zero targets.”

Is that all? The mountain seems rather steep to me. I enjoy a good climb however, so I guess we better get on with it. We can after all, only commit to do what we can. To make the difference we can, and in doing so together, maybe we initiate change.

Mr Guterres concludes by stating that  “Peace is not a naïve dream. It’s a light in the darkness. Guiding us to the only pathway to a better future for humanity. Let’s walk the pathway of peace as if our lives depended on it. Because they do. As a human family, we face a stark choice — peace or perpetual peril. We must choose peace.”