Sent to The Rotarian Action Group for Peace by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, regarding PeaceJam’s One Billion Acts of Peace.

Tuesday, November 11th will be celebrated worldwide as Remembrance Day.  This holiday was created to mark the end of World War I, which formally concluded in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1919.  World War I was supposed to be ‘the war to end all wars’.  Were we foolish to ever believe that this could be so?

You only have to open a newspaper, switch on the television, or browse the internet to begin to feel like the world has gone crazy.  Our modern, global society is plagued by conflict and suffering. From ISIS to Israel, and Syria to Ferguson, Missouri, you would think that the concept of peace is seemingly elusive.

But the reality is that peace cannot be attained merely through signing a treaty, or ending a world war.  Peace is not simply the absence of armed conflict.  Peace must be built, brick by brick, step by step.  Without social justice and human rights for all, there can be no such thing as a lasting peace.

Our governments seem paralyzed when it comes to dealing with the underlying issues that are causing so much conflict and suffering in the world — key challenges like climate change, the rapid spread of disease, the continuing degradation of the environment, the never-ending cycle of extreme poverty. We already possess the resources and the technology necessary to solve these problems.  What we are lacking is the political will to do so.  In too many countries around the world, our leaders are polarized and gridlocked, or simply not interested in stepping forward in a courageous way to begin creating the building blocks necessary for lasting peace.

But the tide is shifting. The global community is no longer prepared to put up with the injustices and brutal atrocities that plague our modern world. And they are not leaving it to world leaders to solve. They are standing up, gathering together, joining peaceful demonstrations, and spreading the word through social media.

One only has to look to the recent worldwide movement to demand justice in Israel and Palestine. It is a movement that does not discriminate. Male and female, young and old, Christians, Jews and Muslims came together from every corner of the globe – from D.C. to Dublin and New York to New Delhi – to form one of the largest, most powerful protests ever seen in the modern world. And the movement continues to gather momentum, with citizens urging major corporations and organizations to divest themselves of holdings that perpetuate the state of war in the Middle East.

It reminds me of the demonstrations against apartheid in South Africa over twenty-five years ago. Then individuals from all walks of life joined together to create effect change. It is not the sole preserve of established world leaders to achieve peace and As citizens of civil society I believe that we must begin a new movement for change today. We must begin to inspire peace through action — acts of peace both big and small.

That is why I have joined with twelve other Nobel Peace Laureates and the PeaceJam Foundation to launch the “One Billions Acts of Peace” campaign, a global citizens movement designed to inspire one billion acts of peace by the year 2019.  The campaign focuses on addressing ten key issues now facing humanity: challenges such as providing equal access to water for all, and ensuring rights for women and children. The goal of this audaciously ambitious campaign is to unleash the goodness and know-how of millions of “average” people, and to empower them to become effective agents of change.  We are creating an online platform which that will allow global citizens, businesses, and organizations to collaborate as they begin to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.  We aren’t going to will notwait any longer for our governments to act — we are going to begin solving the problems ourselves.

The first step is our “Peace Starts with Me!” social media campaign, which asks that we all do three simple things by the end of this year:  submit an ‘Act of Peace’ on the campaign website (; share it with our followers on social media; and challenge three of our friends to do the same.

These acts of peace can make a real difference in the world.  I have been especially impressed by the incredible ability of young people, especially,  to come together to do good.  I have seen Tibetan youth build a pipeline across the town of Dharamshala to provide clean drinking water to their neighbors living in an Indian slum.  I have seen a young woman from an orphanage in Peru create a program to educate and empower other young girls who are orphans, too.  I have seen a team of young people in East Timor come together to plant trees and combat the deforestation that is ravaging their country.

I have said it before, and I will say it again; do your little bit of good where you are — it is these little bits of good put together that will overwhelm the world.

A lasting peace is indeed possible.  It is something that we can attain with hard work and collaboration.  It is already within our grasp, and it reach. Peacebegins with you and me.