I was very disappointed not to be able to attend the launch of this year’s Peace Starts campaign, but sadly, a girl has to go to work every now and then in order to keep the Alzheimer’s Cat in the manner in which she has grown accustomed to. Peace Starts is a wonderful initiative founded by Cito (well-known philanthropist and frontman of WONDERboom, among other things) in support of the International Day of Peace on the 21st of September. The initiative invites us to ask ourselves what peace means to us as individuals, and I think it’s a question that has particular resonance for South Africans.
Obviously the simple answer is that peace means a world without war, crime, miners who bring about violent strike action and police who retaliate, and all that other nastiness. On an individual level though, peace means something else to me. It means being true to myself as far as I possibly can, even if sometimes that means voicing the unpopular opinion. It means being and doing good. Not in a goodie-two-shoes kind of way – I have no intention of giving up tequila and taking up Saturday night knitting – but in a way that involves being kind. Of course, I am a sarcastic bitch and that’s unlikely to ever change, but I think the world would be a far more peaceful place if we were all just a little bit kinder to each other, and to every other living thing that we share this planet with (except maybe cockroaches, they don’t really deserve peace). Smile at people, give them compliments, offer to help where you can. Stop littering, adopt a pet instead of buying one from a breeder, make sure you shop sustainably. Don’t expect anything in return. Think about how your actions impact on the world around you, instead of thinking about yourself and what you can get out of it. These seem like such little, inconsequential things, but imagine if we were all just a little bit nicer to each other and the environment. Ultimately, wouldn’t that make the world a nicer, more peaceful place to live in? Of course, there are always going to be people who live for the drama, who push your buttons, and who are unlikely to be kind. But why stoop to their level? Rise above, and in the end, they will be in the minority and living in their own little drama bubbles all on their own. And let’s face it, drama without buy in is no fun at all, so perhaps in the end they’ll convert to kindness as well.
Part of this year’s Peace Starts initiative calls on us to Pledge for Peace – a yearlong campaign whereby each of us can make our own unique commitments to what we’ll be doing to help bring about peace. Watch this space as I try to come up with my Pledge for Peace, but in the meantime, my aim is to be a little bit kinder, a little bit more patient every day. What is your pledge?