New York – Earlier this year, I had the privilege of paying my respects at the Raj Ghat memorial to Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi. Gandhi’s vision and example showed how one person can change the world. In tribute to his enduring legacy, we mark this International Day of Non-Violence each year on the anniversary of his birth.
In these times of global turmoil and transition, it is fitting that we take a moment to reflect on Gandhi’s message of understanding and peace.
As we look around the world, tolerance is being tested. Fighting is taking a heavy toll fromAfghanistantoSyriato theSahel. The economic crisis is fuelling xenophobia and other forms of dangerous – and deadly – discrimination. Terrorism, human trafficking, rights abuses and violence against women threaten millions of people.
We must work even harder for understanding among and within religions and communities and between and within countries.
I have made prevention a key priority in the five-year action agenda of the
United Nations. But prevention means more than separating warring parties and cooling tensions. Fundamentally tackling the roots of conflict and intolerance will take a culture of non-violence and peace.
Governments must lead. But ultimately, the foundation for non-violence will be built by people: teachers and faith leaders, parents and community voices, business people and grass-roots groups.
Perhaps it may be easier to pick up a weapon than to lay down a grudge. It may be simpler to find fault than to find forgiveness. But I have been deeply moved by communities and people in every corner of the world who have been inspired by Gandhi’s example and made a real difference.
Let us take strength from all of these efforts and work together to build a world of nonviolence and lasting peace.