The 21st day of September has been marked since 1981 by the United Nations as the International Day of Peace.
Before you groan, bear in mind that there’s all sorts of ‘International Days of…’, so why not one for peace? As the UN puts it, “The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.” The website also notes that the theme for this year’s Day of Peace is ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace’. Which is fantastic!
And to mark the occasion, the Peace Bell is rung at the UN headquarters. A quick aside: The Peace Bell, cast from coins donated by delegates from 60 countries and collected by children, was presented by Japan to the UN in 1954. All of which is very wonderfully wholesome and historic — much like the UN itself. But also like the UN, the Peace Bell and International Day of Peace are in danger of losing relevance.
In a world where the Islamic State exists, where people are hacked and slashed for what they believe or eat, where terrorism is a thriving industry and Donald Trump can spew the sort of hate he does and still could be mere weeks away from being appointed the most powerful man on the planet, you have to wonder if peace is even relevant. At least there’s no war though, right?
Sure, one definition of peace is the absence of war. But then if we’re defining a concept by what it is not, are we really defining it at all?
But, for a moment, let’s put aside all those theories — about whether war and peace are true binaries, whether ‘absolute world peace’ (as inscribed on the Peace Bell) is at all attainable and if we should even be talking peace when those around are plotting anything but peace for us — and look elsewhere for an understanding of peace in the world we inhabit.
It’s been 30 years (and two days) since Megadeth’s second studio album Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? was dropped on an unsuspecting world. Obviously, the world knew of frontman Dave Mustaine and his abilities — as showcased in his time in Metallica and on the ‘Deth’s rough-around-the-edges debut album Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good! — but few could have predicted the quality of the band’s alloying of breakneck thrash with political commentary.
Tracks like Wake Up Dead, The Conjuring and Good Mourning/Black Friday are the staple of mix-tapes… compilations CDs… MP3 playlists across the world, but it’s the title track that seems the most appropriate candidate to be the anthem for 2016’s International Day of Peace. And if that’s not good enough for you, how about the prescience of the track in predicting (almost) that someone as clueless as Trump would become POTUS:
What do you mean, “I couldn’t be the president of the United States of America”?
Tell me something, it’s still “We the people”, right?
Remember that line?
What do you mean you don’t remember?
Go and listen.