Wednesday, September 23, 2009

3rd Annual Peace Day Hawaii: Creating a culture of peace

Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu on Peace Education
Karamatsu introduced the legislation to officially recognize Peace Day in Hawaii. He is also the chairman of the ad hoc Peace Day Hawaii Committee.

Peace Day is celebrated worldwide every year on Sept. 21. It is a day of global ceasefire and nonviolence that each member state of the United Nations agreed upon. It is a day in which each one of us can do something to promote peace, either here in Hawaii or around the world.

Internationally: Last year 1.4 million children in Afghanistan were given polio vaccinations, and the Taliban pledged to not harm any vaccination teams entering volatile regions.

Locally: This year yoga practitioners will raise money to help feed Hawaii children with a fundraising event called Global Yoga Mala for Peace in Honolulu.

The idea of peace must begin with us, in our homes, our schools and our communities. That is why in 2007 I introduced a bill, on behalf of the Hawaii Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Associations, to be the first state to officially recognize Peace Day.

Many people shy away from peace initiatives because they think that one person cannot make a difference. That is wrong. We can all make a commitment to strive to embody the Aloha spirit through acts of compassion, acceptance and understanding. Peace must first start within us. Compassionate actions from one person can make a huge impact, and all our actions combined will help the world reach our goal of celebrating peace 365 days a year.

This year the Legislature protected monies for legal services for survivors of violence and updated harassment and temporary restraining order laws. However, we need to put more emphasis on education and awareness and be proactive rather than reactive. We must get to the root of where the cycle of violence can be broken: our keiki. One way to do this is to implement an education program for our public schools that includes education on conflict resolution, discrimination, harassment, bullying, sexual assault, and domestic violence.

Hawaii can also play a major role in international peace. We have a unique society with a variety of cultures and traditions that we share with each other. One of my long-term political goals is to create an "Aloha Mission" to the Middle East region to support our Hawaii troops, meet with political leaders, exchange culture, and provide medicine and toys for children.

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