June-July 2015 | Features

Working for peace

Working for peace

Since the late 90s film producer, Jeremy Gillie, has used his network of celebrity friends and colleagues all over the world to reach three billion people with his Peace One Day project.

Jeremy Gillie is not easy to get hold of because he is so busy flying all over the world promoting his Peace One Day initiative. Eventually we tracked him down and I was able to have a few minutes of his valuable time.

One thing that was obvious right from the start of our interview was this man has so much energy and enthusiasm, it was hard just keeping up with him. He thinks and speaks at the speed of light and this translates into ideas and actions for Peace One Day.

As the mission statement for the organisation that Jeremy has developed from its inception in 1999 says, “If we are to move from a culture of war to a culture of peace then we will have to unite around the most fundamental issue that humanity faces – the protection of each other and our environment. 21st September is the starting point.”

The concept is quite simple in that Peace One Day sets aside the 21st September each year as a Peace Day.

I started by asking Jeremy why he had set up the organisation and his reply was quite self-effacing, “I’m just a guy who is concerned and confused about what is going on in the world and a day of peace for me is about what is going on in our homes, schools and communities.”

He went on to give me some staggering figures telling me that, “$195 billion will be spent on cleaning out war zones but in contrast $95 trillion will be spent on sorting cleaning up violence in our homes schools and communities.”

We discussed the situations in war zones like Syria, which Jeremy mentioned since we hear of such conflicts in international news reports. However Jeremy wished to highlight that in relation to peace we can all play a role with our friends, families and Rotary Clubs.

He also recognised the role Rotary clubs had played in the promotion of Peace One day and mentioned, “Rotary has been a major supporter for many years especially with the relationship with polio, which is profound and significant.”

Peace was brokered in Afghanistan in 2007 when his colleague the actor Jude Law helped as a Peace Ambassador and as a result the United Nations announced a 70% reduction in violence, allowing 1.4 million to be vaccinated against polio on that day.

We went on to discuss the role of Rotary a little bit further in peace and conflict resolution and Jeremy suggests that Rotary Clubs across the world hold a peace day on 21st September to highlight the day and reach out to friends and colleagues during such an event.

Jeremy comments: “It’s everybody’s day, yes I play a role because I believe in the initiative and want to give it exposure not for myself but our strategy is paying off and it is taking on a mind of its own as it grows.”

It has certainly developed over the years and last year events were held all over the world engaging over one billion people, and this year events are planned across Africa helped with a donation from the Howard G. Buffet Foundation and corporate partners like Unilever. Jeremy told me he was also using all the technology at his disposal to help promote the day using social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google Doodle.

As we were finishing the discussion Jeremy came back to his original platform since when it is analysed his message is quite simple.

He told me that Peace One Day, “Is an opportunity for everyone to build a rapport with friends, colleagues, and associates, and to reflect and take a practical activity to encourage peace in our homes, schools and communities.”

He went to say, “That every reader of this magazine can play a role in ensuring peace no matter where they are and what they do.”

After we had finished talking I could not help but reflect on what we had discussed and the enthusiasm and dynamism Jeremy puts into his message. But whatever way you reflect and look at it he is right and we wish him well on his mission.

Rotary Magazine