‘Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself’ – Leo Tolstoy
The United Nations General Assembly declared September 21st of every year as a day dedicated to strengthening the ideals of peace within and among all nations and people. The 2016 United Nations theme is “Building Blocks for Peace”. Exactly one year ago, in September 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of the UN’s new sustainable development goals. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. Goal 16, Peace, Justice, and Strong institutions, addresses the year’s theme.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Global military expenditures in 2015 were an estimated $1676 billion [$1.7 trillion], the biggest spenders being the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
Imagine if this amount were used in ending world poverty or providing education access to those who lack it. As Nelson Mandela wisely said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Investing in formal education helps prevent violence and create world peace. Formal education provides an opportunity for children to learn important social and communication skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving strategies. With these skills, children can better express themselves and resolve differences without resorting to violence as individuals or world leaders.
To achieve world peace, everyone must do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society, and most importantly, YOU.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama shared his personal outlook on solving World Peace from a human approach. They are:
- Universal humanitarianism is essential to solve global problems;
- Compassion is the pillar of world peace;
- All world religions are already for world peace in this way, as are all humanitarians of whatever ideology;
- Each individual has a universal responsibility to shape institutions to serve human needs.
How can you make a difference? Start by applying the above principles to your everyday life and taking action to contribute to a sustainable and peaceful future.