Peace. The V-fingers you flaunt in front of the camera. World peace. The cliché answer to the final question in a beauty pageant. Peace means no war or conflict or violence. People understand and accept their differences. Peace. A state which seems to exist only in a perfect world. But this world is not perfect, and everyone in here is flawed.
Violence and war are both in our history books and newspapers, in our past and our present. We know the story. We memorized names and dates and places since first grade—heroes and antagonists alike. We followed live coverages and admired newscasters putting their lives on the line to keep us updated. We see that despite centuries of fighting for peace, it remains elusive, at least for now.
To recognize the importance of personal communication in resolving conflicts and preserving peace, we celebrate World Hello Day. For the 45th time this year. A showcase of decades of efforts to shedding more kind words instead of blood to reach understanding.
The recently concluded 150 days of war in Marawi made the matter of peace more relevant. Our armed forces fought bullet with bullet, fire with fire. Hostilities killed thousands. It left the city to ruins and the rest of us wondering: Will there ever be peace?
Launching an all-out war against the terrorists prove to be effective. Well, in the short run and at a great cost. The advocacy of this day is to promote lasting peace through an unconventional way—communication. And so, today we greet everyone with a warm HELLO, this is our message of peace:
Help. With war comes wounds and chaos. Each wound needs to be healed, what’s damaged needs to be restored. Even if the war is over, it is still going to take a while to fix its aftermath. There is no shortage of opportunities to help. Donate, volunteer, or communicate messages of peace. Use your time, resources, and talent. There is no little help. Start with what you have. Start with what you can.
Encourage. Help and influence another person to help too. Encouragement can be as simple as posting a positive thought as your Facebook status. Share contents that can elicit action. Spread words that inspire and remind people of their fundamental good. It is one click away.
Learn. Let us consider it our luck that while some people are fighting to be alive, we are sleeping soundly in our beds. Most of us were audiences—safe and away from danger. And if there is one best thing to do as an audience, it would be to learn. Learning is winning half the battle, it paves way for action. Learning changes how we think, how we think dictates our actions. Learning can bring about a real difference.
One thing we’ve learned is that people need autonomy, they need to feel in control. So we strive to give people their independence, even those closest to us. We do not let the lessons of this war go unnoticed. One person at a time. It may seem a long way, but it’s the first step, and we’re getting there.
We’ve also learned that poverty and inequality can lead to war. So we bring help to those who need it. We make people feel included, even those different from us. We become friends with the new student who wears a hijab. We identify ourselves with the indigenous people in public transport. These are everyday things that can accumulate to lasting peace.
Love. Love is a powerful force. It is manifested in various ways—concern, presence, patience, understanding, efforts. It can be an overwhelming concept, and we may not know right way but we are capable of great love. Even for people with whom we share nothing else but being a Filipino. Even for those miles away from us.
Love is inherent. It is how our species survived and survives. All there is to do is channel that love to do more good. It has never been easier to do that than today—the technology era. There are organizations and institutions at your service. iVolunteer is but one of the many. Sign up and let them know you are willing to help.
Optimism. Even the worst days of our lives last only 24 hours. So take a deep breath and prepare for the best. Sure, there might still be wars, misunderstandings, problems and difficulties in the future. But if we’ve taken away something from all the previous ones we had, it is that these are to pass. But be ready to fight again if need be. In fact, start fighting now. Not with guns or air strikes or endless assaults, but with kinder acts and kinder words or a simple hello.
Gie Maningas, iVolunteer Philippines