Following is the full text of a letter sent to newspaper editors across the region to promote the International Day of Peace and the International Day of Prayer for Peace
As you are aware, violence has reached untenable levels in many territories of the Caribbean. Its unrelenting increase at the level of our youth is also especially worrying.
No section of society is immune from its impact. Moreover, people’s lives and futures, especially those of children, are forever altered after being affected by violence. Its impact on business, investment, tourism, mental health, family life, life at our schools, productivity and overall morale is by no means insignificant.
In some instances, scarce financial resources have to be diverted from other important undertakings to the battle against crime and violence. Daily life is increasingly characterised by fear and insecurity and simple human interaction can quickly become aggressive.
International Day of Peace was introduced by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1981 to commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.
The General Assembly in September 2001 further declared that the occasion would thereafter be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence and would serve as an invitation to all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the Day.
International Day of Peace is an opportunity for us in the Caribbean to encourage our citizens to believe peace is possible again, to inspire us to adopt a peaceful approach to our daily interactions, to remember those who have suffered as a result of violence, and to recommit to fostering a more peaceful and just society throughout the year.
It is also an opportunity for perpetrators of violence to consider the devastating impact of their actions upon the lives of their fellow human beings, especially the young.
Above all, International Day of Peace is an occasion to celebrate individuals and organisations actively engaged in working for peace and justice.
It is also an opportunity to recall the many initiatives which have been undertaken over the years in various parts of our region to promote peace and justice, for example the effort to halt the testing of active ammunition (bombs, etc.) in Vieques, Puerto Rico, the Pride in Gonzales Initiative in Trinidad and Tobago, Project Peace in Jamaica.
These and many others throughout our region give us hope that together we can achieve peace that is long-lasting.
The day also coincides with International Day of Prayer for Peace which was established by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 2004. We have invited our member churches to incorporate special prayers for peace into their services on this day.
For Christians and people of all other faiths – women and me of goodwill everywhere - the Day offers a special opportunity to focus on the spirituality of peace and to bring the power of prayer to this human issue.
Gerard A.J. Granado
Caribbean Conference of Churches
September 17, 2008