By Rick Ulfik
Founder of We, The World and the WE Campaign at WE.net
11 Days of Global Unity – September 11-21
The evening of September 21st 2004 was a peak experience in my life, and in the lives of 500 people who participated in the launch event of 11 Days of Global Unity in New York City. Celebrating the International Day of Peace, it took place in the old “Limelight” (also known as Avalon), a church that had been converted into a disco at 20th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan.
It certainly was a unique location for a global hub event that featured Jane Goodall and her Roots & Shoots team, Marianne Williamson, Deborah Moldow and the Universal Peace Flag Ceremony, Gemma Bulos and the Million Voice Choir, Amnesty International, Pathways to Peace, Earth Charter, United Religions Initiative, along with many inspiring speakers, spectacular performers, artists, a live webcast connection with Taiwan and simultaneous events and activities in 125 cities worldwide.
It all started when Troy Lush (who resides in Marin County, California) first contacted me in 2003 about working with We, The World and our global partners to do something BIG that could bring together, and give public exposure to, people and organization changemakers working for peace, sustainability and transformation around the world. We had no idea that our first conversation would lead to the historic launch event on September 21st 2004 and 9 years of annual events with participating partners such as: Amnesty International, Oxfam America, Earthdance, Roots & Shoots, Pathways To Peace, Culture of Peace Initiative, World Peace Prayer Society, United Religions Initiative, The Interdependence Movement, The Shift Network, September 11th Families For Peaceful Tomorrows, WBAI Pacifica Radio, Ecofest, as well as Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, Deepak Chopra, Irene Khan, Marianne Williamson, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Robert Thurman, Arun Gandhi, UN Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Riane Eisler, Lynne Twist, Paul Winter and so many others!
11 Days of Global Unity has become an annual platform for change agents worldwide (like you) to raise awareness and take action collectively. From empowering students and teachers in Zambia to interfaith dialogues in San Francisco, thousands of organizations around the world have taken part in this annual international convergence of festivals, concerts, forums, rallies and other programs promoting peace, justice, sustainability and transformation. 11 Days of Global Unity annually includes as many as 700 associated events in over 60 countries around the world. It culminates on September 21st the U.N. International Day of Peace, which itself convenes thousands of events every year. (See www. InternationalDayOfPeace.org)
I invite you to join this worldwide movement of people, organizations and businesses taking action in “11 Days--11 Ways to Change the World”. We will promote you and your organization as a force for positive change within one or more of the following 11 Global Unity Themes--which call forth the values, spirit and service needed to move humanity towards a culture of peace and a livable future.
11 Ways to Change The World--11 Campaigns that together form a blueprint of change for a peaceful, sustainable, transformed world:
Theme 1 UNITY
Theme 2 INTERDEPENDENCE
Theme 3 ENVIRONMENT
Theme 4 ECONOMIC JUSTICE
Theme 5 HEALTH
Theme 6 CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Theme 7 WOMEN
Theme 8 HUMAN RIGHTS
Theme 9 FREEDOM
Theme 10 DISARMAMENT
Theme 11 PEACE, for example:
- Celebrate the UN International Day of Peace September 21
- Work to create a culture of peace
- Promote a global military ceasefire on September 21
- Call for a day of nonviolence in media
- Call for a day of nonviolence in our communities
- Establish departments and ministries of peace around the world
- Highlight our personal and collective progress towards a culture of peace
- Promote observing a minute of silence at 12 noon globally on September 21
To see complete descriptions of all 11 Campaign Themes, and the many organization partners from around the world who are working in each campaign area, please go to WE.net/11themes.
Which campaign will you join?
Your participation will contribute an essential piece to the incredible mosaic that is quietly shaping the future of our world. During the 11 Days, and any time during the year, we will connect and promote your work to our global network. Together we can create real and lasting change.
Why are we doing 11 Days of Global Unity?
Never before in history have so many voices spoken out on behalf of changing humanity’s direction from one of potential self-destruction to one of building a shared sustainable culture of peace, economic justice and environmental stewardship. Connecting and coordinating these voices locally and globally so they can act collectively to create real and lasting change is the challenge of our time, and the mission of We, The World.
We seek to connect and engage the 50 to 60 million Cultural Creatives in the US (and many more globally). The Cultural Creatives (CCs), as defined by acclaimed author and social researcher Paul Ray, are those gradually helping to create a new culture by living their values, which include some or all of the following: social & economic justice, environmental stewardship, peace, nonviolence, holistic health, spirituality, business social responsibility, compassion, personal growth, global awareness, indigenous wisdom and "WE" consciousness.
The problem is, the CCs are not yet visible to each other and usually do not act collectively, so the rate of societal change is much too slow for them. 11 Days of Global Unity is a platform that facilitates local action and collective global participation allowing the CCs to have a sense of themselves as a growing force that can accelerate change.
The stakes are too high for us to fail.
Even in the wealthiest country, the United States, 1 out of 5 children goes to sleep hungry. Air pollution kills 65,000 people every year. And globally, every single minute the world spends about $2 million on militarism, weapons and war, while 15 children die every minute of hunger and preventable disease.
And now there is a crisis of polarization in the US and elsewhere that is causing political logjams that exacerbate economic hardship, uncertainty and inaction. Hunger and poverty are increasing as a result, wars are still raging and environmental time bombs are starting to explode. Many are calling for fundamental change, and we believe expanding and mobilizing this global network of collaboration and action is a key strategy for creating that change.
The Origin of 11 Days of Global Unity
The U.N. resolution for the International Day of Peace took place in 1981 calling for a day to announce and celebrate ceasefires in conflict areas around the world. It began as a moveable date taking place on the opening day of each new Session of the U.N. General Assembly in September. In 2001 the opening day of the new U.N. Session was scheduled for September 11th. Though the UN had wanted to fix the date on September 21st, it didn’t do it in time. So in 2001 the International Day of Peace actually coincided with the tragedy of 9/11. A U.N. resolution permanently fixed the International Day of Peace on September 21st for succeeding years. In 2004 We, The World and global partners launched 11 Days of Global Unity September 11-21 symbolically marking this move from September 11th to 21st as a transformative global journey from fear to hope.
Together we can create a peaceful, just and sustainable world
Looking back on the millions of lives that have been touched since that wondrous launch of 11 Days of Global Unity at the church-that-became-a-disco-that-became-a-global-portal-for-change agents, I know that together, we can do what we can't do on our own: create a world that works for all. I and WE look forward to creating this world with you!
Rick Ulfik is the Founder of We, The World and the WE Campaign at WE.net. He is Co-Founder and Principal Organizer of 11 Days of Global Unity Sept. 11-21. Rick is a Nonviolent Communication Workshop Facilitator. He is also an award-winning composer and keyboard player who has written music for TV, the Olympics, feature films and has performed with Queen Latifah, Phoebe Snow, Carlos Santana and Judy Collins. He serves every year as an Emmy Awards Judge for News & Documentary, and Music.
The Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive The Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.
This article appears in:
2013 Catalyst - Issue 15