It's Our Moment to Shout for Peace
Melanie Greenberg & Julia Roig | Sep 22, 2017
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As rain fell in New York City this week, it was easy to interpret the weather as a metaphor for the mood around the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). With a powerful megaphone from the Hall of Nations, we heard scary threats of wiping countries off the map, militaristic approaches to complex security problems, and a dark isolationist vision of the international system.

Yet, here we are – as a global community – celebrating the International Day of Peace, an important annual reminder of the multitude of voices that also have a powerful collective megaphone and a compelling narrative for peace. We can be louder than the messages of fear, hate and violence. This year’s theme of Peace Day is apt for our moment: a call for unity, tolerance, inclusion, and solidarity with the world’s migrants and refugees. “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”

Together. Ensemble. Juntos. This is a message that can easily translate across cultures, because we know that global cooperation is essential to the resolution of complex international and domestic issues like migration and refugees. Together, we must rise above the nationalism and virulent geopolitics that stymie cooperative responses.

Despite the rain, the two of us - leaders of peacebuilding networks operating around the world – came away from UNGA feeling hopeful. Sometimes noisily, sometimes quietly, we have seen momentum for peace gaining strength across a wide range of sectors and around the world. There is a sense amongst peacebuilders and our allies that “this is our moment.” In a recent survey conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany by the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP) and Conciliation Resources, peacebuilding drew agreement across partisan lines in an extraordinary way. For example, in the United States, 85% of Democrats surveyed, and 72% of Republicans, agreed that peacebuilding plays a vital role in the world, and that we, as a country, should invest more in peacebuilding.

So how do we build upon this momentum, connect the dots and amplify the voices that come together with great force on September 21st every year? How do we talk about peace in fresh ways, engaging a new generation and inspiring action that can rise above the dark messages not only today, but every day?

In response to these challenges,PartnersGlobal and AfP have joined together to build a new Narratives for Peace platform that is open to our entire professional field and anyone interested in peace. One of the main goals of this effort is to provide the space for peacebuilders to engage with top creative leaders from the advertising and marketing industries, storytellers, social media experts, entertainment executives, writers, and journalists. The platform is a work in progress intended to build a collective story-telling engine, amplify the voices of those working for peace, and help spur collective action.

We’re galvanizing these connections through a number of activities, such as series of Creative Brain Trusts; and have begun initiatives ranging from “music for peace” to a roundtable series with the US Department of Defense on engaging narratives for peace. We have launched a new online content aggregation site – Unite4Peace - with curated stories and videos generated by our peacebuilding community that appeals to a wide audience and can engage new supporters and influencers to promote our narrative. At the Global Mayor’s Summit with Concordia this week, we announced a new global student billboard competition with the UN TOGETHER campaign, and the One Club for Creativity to promote the message of dignity, tolerance and inclusion in several world capitals.

We are not alone in this realization that we need a refreshed brand for peace. This week Aevitas, a New York literary talent agency, convened the first “Peace Studio,” co-organized and facilitated by Maya Soetoro-Ng. The range of participants – from AfP members, to mothers who had lost children to violence, theater and film producers, teachers, artists and musicians, and youth leaders – showed us just how much energy and creativity there is for peace at every level.

We hope to see you at the upcoming Alliance for Peacebuilding conference from October 11-13, where we will continue to connect the dots and reflect on this important moment for us to unify our narratives for peace. Join us, and share your stories. As former Governor Deval Patrick urged us during his inaugural remarks at the Peace Studio gathering: we need to “Whisper Anger, and Shout Peace.“ Please shout with us!

Melanie Greenberg is the CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding.

Julia Roig is the President of PartnersGlobal. You can watch her TedxTalk "We are All Peacebuilders" here.

Tags: International Day of Peace, United Nations, North Korea, Narratives for Peace, UN Together
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