The General Assembly of the United Nations declared the 21st of September as an International Day of Peace in 1981. This day is devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The theme of this year’s commemoration is “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace”.
“Sustainability addresses the fundamental needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Modern challenges of poverty, hunger, diminishing natural resources, water scarcity, social inequality, environmental degradation, diseases, corruption, racism and xenophobia, among others, pose challenges for peace and create fertile grounds for conflict. Sustainable development contributes decisively to dissipation and elimination of these causes of conflict and provides the foundation for a lasting peace. Peace, meanwhile, reinforces the conditions for sustainable development and liberates the resources needed for societies to develop and prosper.”
We know that development can look differently for different people and that the UN has presented challenges towards achieving a JUST peace. However, as veterans we know that peace is not achieved in the moments before a conflict, but rather by building communities that meet human needs. We are all too familiar that injustices felt through poverty, racial inequality, collapsing inner cities and infrastructures, lack of universal health care, climate change and quality education contribute to war and insecurity.
As veterans we see the connection between the endless wars abroad, our bloated military industrial complex, and the inequities it brings to the poor and marginalized all over the world. It is not enough that we veterans see and understand the interconnectedness. If we want to abolish war we must help our fellow citizens here at home see the same connection. We need to understand that dropping more bombs, killing innocent civilians in Muslim countries and the resort to military solutions is robbing the world’s children of health care, education and meaningful jobs to build a safer and more secure future. We believe that as people see and understand this connection, they will stand up with us against war. We can then work together to put in place the building blocks necessary to build a sustainable and peaceful future.
To that end, we call upon our members, fellow veterans, supporters and greater communities to move beyond talk of ending conflict, and instead adopt and implement practices that build peace at home and abroad.