By Pallavi Atey
Each year, on 19th November, International Men’s Day, we celebrate men. We celebrate the ideology of peace and positivity they bring to the world. We celebrate those who are outspoken about the mental issues that men face through obligations to comply to social norms. The idea behind International Men’s Day’s six core objectives, was to cancel both the stereotypical norms about men and toxic masculinity.
As I recall, one of these six aims is to make the world safer and better, for everyone to grow and spread love. In honour of this particular objective, this International Men’s Day, I encourage us all to remember men who have contributed to ensuring peace and love for a better world, for all men, women, and children. Let us remember those who wrote the words that changed society’s perspectives and norms; the leaders who fought for freedom from suppression and colonization; the activists who marched in the street against forced policies from the government; the presidents and prime ministers; the law makers; the artists; the singers; spiritual leaders; journalists; comedians; poets; and all of the great men who are eternalized in history book pages.
When I think of ‘peace’, the first name that comes to mind is Nelson Mandela. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, for his non-violent resistance for the termination of apartheid regime. He became the first black President of South Africa in 1994, which was the nation’s first non-racial election after its struggle for equal rights and freedom. As president, he framed a new constitution with new economic reforms, which was important in addressing the crisis of poverty, inequality, and unequal access to social services and infrastructure. He successfully contributed to world peace and lives on as an example of a peacemaker.
The second name that comes to mind is of Mahatma Gandhi; a symbol of peace and unity. India’s “Father of the nation”, he fought for India’s independence on the path of non-violence and protests against British colonial rule. Mandela was a follower of Gandhi’s strategy of non-violence, alongside many other world leaders. I consider his protests, fasts, marches, speeches – to name a few elements of his legacy – to have been a loud way to reach other nations and spread his message of peace, unity, non-violence across the world. Even now, it lives on.
Another figure whose words inspired millions of Americans to fight against poverty and discrimination, for civil rights and voting rights, is Martin Luther King Jr., who was the youngest individual to be awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize. He is praised for speaking about the Vietnam War and supporting anti-war protests, and his “I have a Dream” speech is remembered by many individuals, both American and non-American. We fought for black lives then, and we fight for the black lives now. We will continue to fight for all men who have had a gun held against their head just because of their colour, because the fight is not new, and the fight is not over. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Not white, not black, but equal.
Similarly to these great leaders, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was very well known in his work in social services and the upbringing of Dalits (the untouchables) for their Religion rights, education rights, basic civil rights. His thoughts on the annihilation of caste are thought to have the power to save the world from discrimination against caste, race and colour. He was very loud about the rights women have over their bodies, including safe and legal access to abortions and menstruation support. He believed that laws can change the world into a better place, rather than changing people’s hearts and minds, so he wrote the Constitution of India as Minister of Law and member of opposition in the Indian Parliament. This gave every Indian citizen equal rights under the Constitution. His ideas and thoughts are felt to be embedded into the core of the India we know today.
There are many great creative figures who have fought to secure global peace and love. We should remember Pablo Picasso’s artistic masterpiece, Dove of Peace as a symbol for global peace in first International Peace Conference in Paris,1949. Songs like ‘Heal the World’ and ‘They Don’t Care About Us’, by Michael Jackson, inspire future generations by calling for global healing for our children, and children’s children; an end to the discrimination again black lives and police brutality; and most of all, displays of ‘humanity’.
Anti-war protesters like David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, sought to protect the life of young men fighting in the war and for those who were dying. I want to highlight their words from the protests in Chicago 1968, “if our blood will shed, let in shed on the streets.” These men represent an important movement in history, where people from different states in America, came together in protest for the greater good. We see the same movement held in Russia, in support for anti-war protests.
It is not possible to name every man who has contributed the fight for global love and peace, but I want to close by mentioning former President of the United States, Barack Obama, who has carried the ideological values of great men from the past, into today’s modern world. His extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples are a testament to the push for love and peace on a global scale.
May we remember these legends on this International Men’s Day.