TODAY marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations International Day of Peace.
United States president Barack Obama, the most recent recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly to mark this special day.
Many heads of state will also be addressing the General Assembly on this day; and it is expected that Laura Chinchilla Miranda, the president of Costa Rica, will speak about International Day of Peace.
Costa Rica not only officially recognises this occasion, but was also the country to introduce the original resolution creating this day in 1981.
The first four words of the UN charter are: "To maintain international peace."
There will be a minute of silence at noon in all time zones worldwide, as requested by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and sponsored by Pathways To Peace on behalf of the Culture of Peace Initiative.
The initiative is a network of thousands of groups working year round to produce and promote practical peace-building activities.
Many groups are actively promoting this 'Minute of Silence' and tens of millions of people will be doing this in the hope to envelope the world with a 'Wave of Peace'.
For those who don't know, Pathways To Peace initiated this program over 20 years ago and even called it The Peace Wave back then.
In fact, the idea for the Secretary General's annual request for the minute of silence at noon in all time zones actually stemmed from this program.
Of course, global technology wasn't what it is today.
In more ways than one, this is an idea whose time has come. Peace begins within ù but extends to wherever we take it.
The Culture of Peace Initiative focuses on three guiding principles and actions:
(1) Peace within ù the minute of silence at noon in each time zone;
(2) Peace without ù an act of service for peace that benefits the larger community;
(3) Peace year round ù a commitment to a daily peace practice by joining with others to build a worldwide culture of peace.
Today, according to the Associated Press, a meeting of the nuclear envoys from North and South Korea could provide crucial momentum towards restarting disarmament talks, just months after the two countries were threatening to bomb each other into rubble.
AP reports other recent positive signs between the Koreas include a delegation of Buddhists who visited North Korea earlier this month, and South Korean government's approval of a trip this week by Catholic, Protestant and Buddhist leaders to the North.
A prominent South Korean maestro said last week after a trip to North Korea that he has agreed with North Korean officials on regular joint symphony performances in Seoul and Pyongyang ù though South Korean officials have yet to review the details.
The late Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr said: "Without justice, there can be no peace. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it."
In 2002, the late Pope John Paul II titled his Peace Day message, "No peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness."
Today is an opportunity for each of us to remember that "world peace" is not some wishy-washy ideal, but something that begins with being at peace with ourselves.
As I write in Seoul, I remember that just a year ago, a tree was planted for peace in the grounds of the Davuilevu Theological College.
The planting of that little vesi seedling, in the soil, symbolised the need for positive peace to be deeply rooted in the hearts of people called to a ministry of peace and reconciliation.
What can you plant today?
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust;
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends;
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness;
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment;
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective;
If you plant hard work, you will reap success;
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation;
If you plant peace, you will reap justice.
So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.
As it is also the World Council of Churches International Day of Prayer for Peace, I invite you to reflect on a prayer that has been around for a long time, used and quoted by leaders and ordinary people called to be extraordinary in the struggle for peace.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen. (Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi)
Be Still, Stand in Love, Pay Attention.
* Reverend James Bhagwan is a student of the International Graduate School of Theology at the Methodist Theological University in Seoul, South Korea.