Preserving peace

November 21, 2023 was commemorated as the 51st annual World Hello Day. The message is for world leaders to use communication rather than force to settle conflicts.
World Hello Day may sound extremely basic, as it encourages us to take the opportunity to simply greet people, and to recognise how important simple communication is in our daily lives. The story of how it came to be, however, is a long and interesting one.
World Hello Day was founded in 1973 by Brian McCormack, a PhD graduate of Arizona State University, and Michael McCormack, a graduate of Harvard University, in response to the Yom Kippur War. The McCormack brothers mailed 1360 letters, in seven languages, to government leaders worldwide to encourage participation in the first World Hello Day. Since that time, World Hello Day has been observed by people in 180 countries.
Any person can participate in World Hello Day simply by greeting ten people or more. This demonstrates the importance of personal communication for preserving peace. The observance began in response to the conflict between Egypt and Israel in the fall of 1973. People around the world use the occasion as an opportunity to express their concern for world peace. Beginning with a simple greeting on World Hello Day, their activities send a message to leaders, encouraging them to use communication rather than force to settle conflicts. In its first year, World Hello Day gained the support of 15 countries. As a global event, World Hello Day joins local participation in a global expression of peace.
Several winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are among the people who have noted World Hello Day’s value as an instrument for preserving peace, and as an occasion that makes it possible for anyone in the world to contribute to the process of creating peace. Other supporters include almost 100 authors, entertainers, and world leaders.
Participating in World Hello Day is quite simple: say hello to at least 10 people during that one day. This is supposed to send a message of openness and goodwill to others, and the creators of the holiday hoped this small gesture alone would demonstrate how communication can be instrumental in resolving disputes and preventing conflicts.
Many take it a step further; they use it as a time to reflect on someone important they have lost touch with for one reason or another. This may be an important person in their lives they have fallen out with over something that is perhaps not quite worth it. Time tends to be a great healer, so if enough time has passed from the conflict, they would be able to analyse the situation and all of its aspects, seeing their own faults and wrongdoings as well as those of the other party, and maybe it’s time to put the conflict to rest?
Many people do not know how good it actually feels to admit they were in the wrong and say sorry; instead, they see such behaviour as a display of weakness, when it actually is a display of strength and confidence. People also often make the mistake of thinking that the other person would lose respect for them if they apologise to them, and this also is incorrect. Most people tend to gain more respect for being able to admit they were wrong than if they decide to stubbornly hold on to their convictions after being proven incorrect.
It may seem a bit daunting at first, but if the person or situation is important enough, it would always be worth the struggle to make the first move and extend a hand in a gesture of peace.
Given the existing tensions between Guyana and Venezuela, it would be remiss of the citizens of both nations not to see the significance of this day, even if it appears trivial.
The message is universal: Why not use this day and those that follow as a catalyst for improving national communication as well?