International Day of Peace Reflection

Written by Hollister Thomas

“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” The lyrics of this iconic song have been singing in my head and heart since International Day of Peace on Saturday, September 21. Euphrates looks forward to uniting with the world on this day each year. My own family joined the youth-led worldwide Climate Strike in our community the previous day, September 20. This felt like an important way to unite with others and feel our global interconnectedness. As a member of the Euphrates team, I was eager to receive stories from our community members sharing how they honored this day. 

Examples began to trickle in here and there Saturday morning. The Euphrates chapter of Redding California met on Sundial Bridge to share a guided meditation about making peace with ourselves so that we can make peace with others. In Burundi, a country still plagued by ethnic tension since independence in 1962, a group joined together to honor this day of peace breaking bread together. Euphrates founder, Janessa Gans Wilder, spent the day in discussions about first amendment freedoms and the importance of bridging divides in our polarized environment at the First Amendment Voice Symposium in Washington DC. Worldwide I witnessed global citizens raising their voices to “commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.”

And then, the next story I received rocked my world. I received a call that my 22 year old nephew had died of drug overdose. My heart sank and I sat in shock. One of my sons, 14, was in the room and immediately sensed something tragic. When the words came out of my mouth, they didn’t seem that they could be my own story. This couldn’t possibly be a part of our family’s story. Cooper has been a part of my life since my first year of marriage and my children’s life since the day they each were born. He is a joy-filled ray of light. As a friend recently remarked, his default qualities are joy and unconditional love.

As the details of his death unfolded, the weight of this heartache became heavier. In the last couple years, I witnessed a change in Cooper. The sweet, adventurous, joy-filled child began to look more displaced and directionless, clearly lacking a sense of inner peace. But I had no idea the depths of this restlessness or the path of addiction he was on. In this past week, our family has gathered to share the tears and pain, the stories and hugs, but more importantly to simply share connection. Nothing was more important to Cooper than his connection to friends and family…nothing mattered more.

The mission of Euphrates is to inspire humanity to act from Oneness. My mission this week has been to feel that Oneness. It’s so clear that this feeling or acknowledgement of Oneness heals all grief and unites us all in a holy sense of being. This mission speaks to me and to all of us right now, wherever we are in whatever we are experiencing. It speaks to the family healing from the loss of a loved one. It speaks to the group uniting in prayer on a bridge in Northern California. It speaks to a community in central Africa healing from decades of civil turmoil.

What I have learned in my work with Euphrates is that global peace cannot be achieved without first finding personal peace. In our world today, there are so many Coopers, so many that are feeling a lack of peace and a sense of separation. We all have the power within to change this narrative. I know, wholeheartedly, that when we work to find peace within, we carry this peace into our relationships, into our communities, and then our world changes. Then humanity is at peace, acting from Oneness.

newsAnna-Zoë Herr