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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

Shaping peace together – the new normal

Rochdale has a proud tradition of marking the UN International Day of Peace. In recent years individuals and organisations from the whole spectrum of our richly diverse communities have come together in our Town Hall to demonstrate a common desire to create a more peaceful world.

For obvious reasons this will not be possible this year, so we need alternative ways to mark the day.

The 2020 theme for the International Day of Peace is Shaping Peace Together

We are invited to:

• Celebrate the day by spreading compassion, kindness, and hope in the face of the pandemic.

• Stand together against attempts to use the virus to promote discrimination or hatred, including those based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

There is currently much dialogue and individual thought being devoted to the ‘new normal’ not just in terms of coping with current changes but identifying what the future should look like - ‘shaping peace together’.

We can:

Share our thoughts about ‘shaping peace together – the new normal’ through such as poems, stories, statements, videos, visual art etc.

Celebrate our richly diverse cultural heritage by sharing words and images that raise our collective awareness and promote greater understanding and tolerance in the wider community.

I am willing to collect contributions to the above and share on 21 Sept on my website and across social media.

This is the launch of an ongoing sharing that I would be happy to curate online with a view to physical exhibition when we arrive at less restricted new normal.

International Day of Peace 21 September

‘United in differences and diversity

Living together in peace is all about accepting differences and having the ability to listen to, recognize, respect, and appreciate others, as well as living in a peaceful and united way.

This year, it has been clearer than ever that we are not each other’s enemies. Rather, our common enemy is a tireless virus that threatens our health, security and very way of life. COVID-19 has thrown our world into turmoil and forcibly reminded us that what happens in one part of the planet can impact people everywhere.

For the United Nations, 2020 was already meant to be a year of listening and learning. To mark its 75th anniversary, the UN has invited millions of people worldwide to join UN75, the largest and furthest-reaching global conversation on building the peaceful and prosperous future that we want.

As we struggle to defeat COVID-19, your voice is more important than ever. In these difficult times of physical distancing, this International Day of Peace will be dedicated to fostering dialogue and collecting ideas. The world will be invited to unite and share thoughts on how to weather this storm, heal our planet and change it for the better. Even though we may not be able to stand next to each other, we can still dream together.’

António Guterres is the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations.

‘Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19.

The virus does not care about ethnicity or nationality, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly.

Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world.

The most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price.

They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.

Let’s not forget that in war-ravaged countries, health systems have collapsed.

Health professionals, already few in number, have often been targeted.

Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable.

The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.

End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.

That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.

It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.

To warring parties, I say:

Pull back from hostilities.

Put aside mistrust and animosity.

Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes.

This is crucial…

To help create corridors for life-saving aid.

To open precious windows for diplomacy.

To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Let us take inspiration from coalitions and dialogue slowly taking shape among rival parties to enable joint approaches to COVID-19. But we need much more.

End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.

It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now.

That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.’

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