Spain Sunday: Peace Day

International Peace day is September 21st (mark your calendars) but Spain’s day of peace was January 30th. Hmmm. Let’s look into this.

An online Spanish newspaper called it the “School Day of Nonviolence and Peace” so it’s different – I guess.

I can’t get a straight answer on any of it. An organization called World Without Wars is responsible for creating it, but some groups in Spain use it as a year-long thing. It starts January 30th with the day of peace and ends (?) October 2nd with the Day of Non-Violence. Makes as much sense as anything else in Spain.

With any excuse to celebrate and have fun lessons, my school has participated for years. With January 30th just a few days away my school was in an absolute tizzy about peace day. Posters must be made, letters were being sent home, things were being organized. My perfectly capable adult co-teacher couldn’t make an origami dove and was freaking out about it a little. It’s was a mess.

I needed to dive deeper into what this was. Why on earth was Spain doing this when the real live International Day is September 21st? Doesn’t that seem a little antagonistic (anti-peaceful, if you will) to refuse to celebrate it with everyone else and instead just create your own day? Are we too good for the world wide day? And isn’t that alarming to anyone else?

With further research we figured out January 30th was the day Mahatma Gandhi died. The official title is The International School Day of Non Violence and Peace which is a mouthful. It really is mostly focused in Spain. It has no other references in any other languages besides Catalan (another language in Spain) Dia Escolar de la No-violència i la Pau. 

Wikipedia says the International School Day of Non Violence and Peace (ISDNVP??) was started by a Spanish poet that no one has ever heard of. Wikipedia doesn’t even have its own information besides linking to other Spanish websites. These websites claim it’s celebrated all over the world but the source that claims this just mentions one university in Germany who tried it once. It’s fully Spanish. So we can just remove the International from that name. School Day of Non Violence and Peace. SDNVP.

It also seems to dripping in religion. Which is fine. Catholicism is a real live subject in school with actual tests on:

Who does Jesus love? a) me  b) you  c) the world d) all of the above.

The majority of websites discussing the benefits of SDNVP are Jesuit or Catholic based websites. One finishes off with this fantastic final line of their peace song: Today, God, You called at my door./ I oppened [sic]. Is it You?/ You appear as a child of the world,/. [sic] wounded by bombs, with your slight, fearful face/hunger gripping your cheeks… (source)

The end. Written by that same poet who founded the whole thing.

I’m struggling a lot to get more information on this. Here is the mission statement explaining what the SDNVP actually is. It won’t make sense, so read slowly:

In the point of view of Entreculturas, learning about participation means to educate people able to create a possible World we believe in. On the other hand, learning about peace creates a conception of an equal global citizen on dignity, messenger of a new social order more inclusive and sustainable. We believe in a kind of participation to make new things and convert the new problems between people and countries into peaceful ties and exchanges … For that other World, we would need another kind of education among other things. A creative and innovative education to promote the learning of participation and democratic values from the experience (source)

It makes less sense the more you try to make sense of it. We should learn about participation? We want to create a possible world but not that particular world. Learning about peace will help us be a “citizen on dignity.” And for all of this to be possible we would need “another kind of education among other things.” Yikes.

Finally another website defined peace as (among many other things) “When a billion people do not go to bed hungry every night or banks no longer receive the money that these people need to live with dignity.” (source). Damn Spain. So it can get highly political, religious and it isn’t sure what its own mission statement is.

I was then wildly surprised to see that UNICEF actually acknowledges SDNVP but all of the resources are only in Spanish. UNICEF spelled it out better with goals and lessons that could be focused on that day:

  • Willingness to reflect on own stereotypes and prejudices.
  • Tolerance towards the emotional manifestations of others, although we do not share them.
  • Respect and empathy towards the victims of violence, even if we do not share their circumstances or opinions.
  • Conflict resolution skills.

So the big day arrived. No one could tell me about it. What is it? Peace Day. What would the students do?

Draw yin yang signs, apparently:

And some peace signs but a lot of yin yang signs. These represent balance so in the context of peace day I’m thinking we can’t have peace without violence. Um.

Then all the classes were cancelled. I was given an expensive sticky backed paper to draw peace/yin yang signs on. (We don’t have functioning computers but we can afford these). Then everyone went out to the courtyard and made speeches about peace for an hour.

All the students had been practicing dancing to Madre Tierra video here, not my kids. 

The song has a big part where you just jump in the air and say “hey! hey!” which is everyone’s favorite part so that was incredibly deafening to have 320 kids dancing/singing to it. When the song was over the kids begged to do it again, so they did it again then sent everyone back inside all worked up and excitable.

I’m not anti-peace or anything. I loved not having to teach one of my worst classes so they could shout “hey hey!” outside. I just don’t understand what it’s about. Why does only Spain celebrate it? Because one of their poets decided it should be so? What is the purpose when there already is an International Day? Why didn’t we participate in that international day but this SDNVP was so important the parents took off work to watch their kids shout “hey! hey!” outside. Why does our school not have money for computers but found the budget for all the nametags for every kid to write “peace” on then crumple into balls on the playground? (The name of the song was Mother Earth but there is peace-name tag litter everywhere).

I’m sorry but this Spain Sunday creates more questions than answers but that’s the way of it sometimes.

It would’ve been better to do literally anything else that day. Like go volunteer with the elderly (go shout the “hey hey!” song at them, they’d love it). Or volunteer with all the homeless animals. I think this “International” Day of Nonviolence and Peace is what half of every other day of peace is – just a way to talk about nothing and feel better about it. Are the kids more peaceful? No they still hit each other and bully so much they get suspended from school (true story). Has the entirety of Spain been working on this for weeks? Yes. Did it help anyone? No. No money was donated to charities, no one in need was helped. We didn’t collect food or clothes. We wasted 3 reams of paper to draw yin yangs and fold doves then just shouted “hey hey” outside.  It’s a metaphor for everything else politically based in peace and I guess we have to be thankful the kids in Spain are exposed to it so young.

Mike drop. Peace out.

2 thoughts on “Spain Sunday: Peace Day

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