One week ago UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon said during a High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace: "On one day the world spends twice as much money on new weaponry as we at the UN can spend on peace building in an entire year." I was among the 400 people in the General Assembly who heard this shocking truth and I probably felt as David in front of Goliath; how can I ever beat this big ugly money consuming monster? We're talking about 160 billion US Dollars per year, enough to bring food and education to millions of people around the globe.
Friday is the International Day of Peace. If you are familiar with this you're probably Polish, because in Poland 16% seems to be aware of this day, but worldwide the average percentage of awareness lies around 6%.
Over a decade ago, 21 September was chosen for this honorable role but it's still one of the best kept secrets of the United Nations. On Friday at UN Headquarters in NY, a boy will ring a bell, a girl will sing Imagine and at noon, guests will experience one minute of silence.
However, personally I don't believe that silence is what the world needs right now given the rising number of conflicts, increasing tensions between East and West and the possibility of war between Israel and Iran. It is time to break the silence and fuel intercultural dialogue and disarmament on a global level!
The International Day of Peace is an ideal opportunity to generate more media attention for these goals and above all, mobilize more active supporters. Twelve days after 9/11, from remembering the past to acting for the future...
A quick glance at the Global Truce website shows tens of peace building organizations who are ready for this huge challenge. In the cradle of the Arabic Spring there's a new powerful and inspiring surprise in the making: MasterPeace. Formed by a team of young Muslims and Christians working side by side, against all odds. Around Cairo they are organizing several events today and in the coming week, varying from street art festivals with murals and dialogue cafés about the future of the country up to a workshop on disarmament at Cairo University where three Hibakushas (Hiroshima survivors) will share their devastating experiences. This young dedicated team in Egypt is also guiding MasterPeace events in twenty-five other countries, from Panama to Nepal and Sierra Leone to the Philippines. Everywhere young 'social entrepreneurs' are using art and music to foster dialogue and recruit new peace builders.
One example is an event in Juba, the capital of the new republic South Sudan. MasterPeace is organizing a concert today with the rapper and former war child Emmanual Jal, who recently composed the song We Want Peace with among others Peter Gabriel and Alicia Keys. In front of ten thousand people he will announce that he will be performing with an artist from Sudan at the global MasterPeace Concert to be held next to the Gizeh Pyramids in Cairo on the International Day of Peace in 2014.
Exactly after two years from now this concert will provide a stage for artists from the major conflict areas of the world to perform together with their 'opponents' to push for peace building, dialogue and disarmament. These courageous artists who dare to work across the conflict will inspire many throughout the world to start acting for peace too. To attend this concert in Cairo you cannot just buy a ticket. You can only earn your invitation by using your talent for peace, globally or within your own community. You can become the local co-owner of MasterPeace by organizing concerts, seminars, dialogue initiatives, and other activities that mobilize and inspire others to use his or her talent too.
Maybe Mr. Ban Ki-moon can speech during the MasterPeace concert by 2014: "On this day twice as much people are working for peace as two years ago on the entire year". And we know that all social change started with the mobilization of civil society. So let this be our commonly shared MasterPeace. Let's all meet each other in Cairo after two years from now, breaking the silence on the International Day of Peace for once and forever.
Follow Ilco van der Linde on Twitter: www.twitter.com/IlcoMasterPeace