JEREMY GILLEY is the founder of Peace One Day. Because of his efforts, September 21 is an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence. 22 years on, Jeremy is even more passionate about bringing peace to the world, despite the current uncertainty and unrest. Here he speaks to ELIZABETH DENLEY about taking Peace One Day to the next level.
Q: Hi Jeremy, it’s good to connect again. Peace One Day has built so much awareness over the past two decades about peace and the need for ceasefires. So what next? Where are we heading with all this?
JG: Well, there are two things. First, where are we heading as a global community, and second, what kind of impact are the Peace One Day campaigns having?
Our Global Situation
JG: Where we’re heading as a global community is obviously of serious concern. It’s extremely worrying, frightening, and tragic. There are really no words to describe the way we are operating at this particular point.
We admitted a while ago, as people like Paul Polman and Mary Robinson said, that this decade is incredibly crucial. We needed to make the right decisions in relation to humanity’s survival, and now everything we’re doing is the opposite of what we should be doing. We’re seeing an increase in violence between countries and in our communities. The way in which we’re treating resources… I’m upset and angry about the whole thing.
When you look at the evolution of humans, should I be that surprised? We can have an intellectual conversation about how everything’s got to change, but the truth is, can we actually change the DNA of a human being to be capable of protecting anything beyond itself? I think history probably proves the answer to that question.
If we look at some of our great achievements, there’s some beautiful architecture (dependent on the resources that we used to build it), amazing music, beautiful art, and amazing poetry, etc. There are also some very complex weapons. There are examples of heinous destruction. That is what we are. Look at the evolution of the human species in relation to destroying each other, and destroying what gives us life. That is the result.
So, we can have a nice conversation about beautiful things and spirituality, but it’s really niche when I look at what we’ve done, who we truly are, the manifestation of our actions. Do we have the ability to do something different? Have we only just realized that we have to behave differently? Of course not. We’ve known for ages that we needed to behave differently. And have we been capable of behaving differently? The answer is no.
That’s the reality. Will there be a shift in consciousness? Unlikely. What will life be like beyond 250 years, if indeed it exists? Unpleasant, to say the least. Many would say we’re in the final chapter. We were told by the great contemporary thinkers of our time that this is the decade for fundamental change and we have failed!
And we haven’t even talked about the 4 billion people who are really hungry, and about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. “Sorry, I want to feed my kids. You want to talk about 17 goals with me?” That’s where we are, that’s who we are, and who we are is what we’ve manifested.
So what’s the point of getting up? Well, there is a point. I’ve got a little girl, and I need to take care of her, and I need to do everything I can to protect her future as best I can, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. And then my daughter will have children, and my daughter’s children are really going to be in the heart of the fire.
Therefore, I’m going to get up and dig deep every day. And I’m going to work my absolute socks off, to do three things that are crucial to humanity’s survival. It’s not just me, there are thousands of people doing it. We need to create narratives that are constructive, with just three words: inform, inspire, engage. Not inform and freak someone out! There’s no point in pretending this whole thing is okay, but that doesn’t make any difference to the way I’m going to operate on a daily basis. In fact, it fuels my desire to work even harder.
I think we’ve got to look back at history, whether it’s the slave trade, women having the vote, or the incredible LGBT+ community, and the amazing breakthroughs that we see in all sorts of diverse, inclusive, just, and equal ways. They were people on the periphery who were shouting and screaming, being creative and constructive, and informing, inspiring and engaging, and who eventually made the status quo. Well, guess what? Individuals on the outskirts who are marginalized, who aren’t the mainstream, will be the status quo! And that’s a beautiful, exciting, inspiring point; that’s how history unfolds.
And technology and science are going to be fundamental to our human fight for survival. We can make a difference – all of us trying to make a contribution, individually, collectively, doing extraordinary things – and science and technology will kick in as well. It’s a fascinating situation!
The Impact of Peace One Day
JG: And the impact of Peace One Day? Well, it’s 22 years, 138 countries. The International Day of Peace is September 21, a day of ceasefire, of nonviolence, unanimously adopted by every government in the world. It has also been passed through the US Congress as the Day of Peace. That was a lot of hard work by Kofi Annan and the incredible men and women of the United Nations, and others, including corporations, actors and singers, and civil society. The day is manifested; that’s my starting point.
We saw what happened in Afghanistan with a ceasefire – children were vaccinated and there was a 70% reduction in violence, so we saw improvement in the most complex place in the world. A cynic would say that one day of peace is only symbolic and meaning less, but they’re wrong; this mountain is climbable. You can only say it’s not climbable if you have a fear of climbing it yourself. Two billion people are aware and more people are thinking about peace than on any other day of the year – that is a great thing. As a consequence of that collective thought there is a behavioral change. September 21 is the most peaceful day of the year, so we know the impact is there.
We’re moving into the next chapter, becoming like a “Netflix for Good.” We do 4 shows a year–for the elimination of racial discrimination, for climate action, the world’s Day of Peace, and Space Transformers. That’s a lot of inspiring and engaging narrative. Next year, we will do 12 shows, the 4 big ones and one every other month – 90 minutes specials around issues like poverty, terrorism, education, marking key dates in every month. As a consequence, you’ll see content creation quadrupling, amplifying, and that means more engagement and more narrative created by us to inform, inspire, and engage globally.
Over the next five years or so, I would like to see POD become a destination, where you go to see programming around peace, sustainability, climate justice, equality, diversity, collaboration, cooperation, innovation, spirituality, etc. I’m very excited about the future. We’re fired up.
We’re surviving, and it’s the yin and the yang, isn’t it, the dark and the light. I know darkness. Having known darkness is what allows me to see the light, find the light. So, it’s the first part of the answer to your question about really examining what we’ve actually manifested, what our evolution is manifesting. Darkness is actually what creates and ignites a passion and a desire to do something constructive.
Q: And whenever evolution happens, it comes in quantum leaps. So, there’s always the possibility, that something’s going to leap out of the stratosphere and go somewhere else. And we never know when that’s going to happen. If we don’t do anything, it’s not going to happen. If we do something, it may or may not happen, but there’s a chance it will.
So, what’s happening on September 21?
JG: We are creating an experience on September 21.People can get information by watching any of the social media channels, including Peace One Day, Jeremy Gilley, and International Day of Peace. We’re going live from London and New York this year on World Peace Day. We will have contributions from unbelievable individuals from the world of music and performance art, thought leaders, panel discussions, interviews, and we’ll broadcast live to various locations around the world.
We’ll be telling the stories of remarkable women and men who are working daily to save humanity. And I hope that informs and inspires and engages others to do the same. If you don’t know about Peace Day, and you come across that work, it will hopefully inform, inspire, and engage you to action. If you know it’s going to be Peace Day, I hope you reconcile your differences, pull your family together in a moment of unity, and with that unity comes hope and strength. By working together, we can have peace one day, in our families, in our communities, in our places of work, in our places of worship, and in our schools and universities.
If you know it’s going to be Peace Day,
I hope you reconcile your differences,
pull your family together
in a moment of unity,
and with that unity comes hope
If we want to live in a peaceful world, and we know the day of peace is September 21,but we don’t do anything ourselves, then don’t question government leaders. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? If we want to live in a more peaceful and sustainable world that protects our children’s children, we are all going to have to play along.
So, to those who know about September 21, I hope you have a beautiful day. You don’t need to organize the biggest event that’s ever happened, you just need to reach out to your family, your friends, your loved ones, and your work colleagues, or just strengthen those relationships and the sense of commitment that, “Let’s do some real good here. ”Follow us on social media and tell us what you’re doing. For those who don’t know, I hope you watch the show and find out more.
Q: Thank you. That’s inspiring. Are you still as visionary and inspired as you were 22 years ago?
JG: I think I’m probably scarred. I’ve got a lot of wounds, but those wounds are interesting. And some of the darkness that I’ve experienced is like a climber who falls down halfway, after taking three years to get to that point, and now they’ve got to go another couple of years. You can look at it two ways: I’ve fallen down and I’m never going to make it; or I’ve fallen down and hurt myself, but I’ve got to get up and work another couple of years to get to the top of that mountain.
To those who helped manifest darkness in the world, instead of wanting revenge, be grateful to them and thank them for the experience they’ve given you. It’s making you who you are, and there’s a lot in that. If you can look at life that way, it’s liberating. It actually does fuel passion. Turn around what’s dark, what brings you down, and say, life is a series of chapters, life is things that you just have to learn and tools to equip yourself with. It’s that mental approach where you see the glass half full rather than the glass half empty.
To those who helped manifest
darkness in the world,
instead of wanting revenge,
be grateful to them and thank them
for the experience they’ve given you.
It’s making you who you are,
and there’s a lot in that.
If you can look at life that way,
How am I feeling? Pretty scarred but passionate, probably more passionate. I’ve got more energy now, after 22 years on the road, than I had at the beginning. I have equipped myself with skills that I never had before. That gives me the ability to think really big, paint any picture, dream of anything, just go for it. That’s really exciting!
Also, people take you more seriously the older you get. Years ago, I remember looking at big producers like Kevin Wall, and now I think to myself, “Wow, you’ve done a lot of producing, Jeremy. ”I’m not suggesting I’m anywhere near Kevin, but life is quite beautiful in that way. It enriches you and rewards you, and the rewards come as a consequence of your ability to know and see things as achievable. I feel great, I feel ready, I feel energized, I’m up for another five years of really interesting work.
Q: Peace be with you, it’s fantastic talking to you.
JG: I love speaking with you and am always really grateful for all the amazing work that you are all doing, it’s incredible. We’ve just got to keep going.
Q: At Heartfulness, we’re doing a lot of environmental work now, with forest planting of rare and endangered species – across India, millions of trees. And water projects with governments to re-irrigate. I agree with you, the SDGs aren’t going to happen unless we make them happen.
JG: The SDGs are wonderful signposts, wonderful pieces of art. They have a very important role to remind us of the mountains we need to continuously climb. The key with having a finite period of time is that we can perceive it as a failure when we don’t achieve them within the15-year window. But the truth is, they’ve already been a success in relation to those who have seen them, which of course, is limited. I’ve drawn a lot from them personally. I love thinking about them. Those who have the privilege to be able to look at them and talk about them, which is very few, have a crucial role. If you can look at them, you can probably eat. So, good on the teams that have been working tirelessly, like the SDG Action Campaign. Brilliant, brilliant work.
Q: Well, thank you so much, and all the best for September 21.
JG: Have a wonderful Peace Day. It’s lovely to see you.
Q: You too. All the best.
After a successful career as an actor and filmmaker, Jeremy founded the non-profit organization Peace One Day. Because of his efforts, in 2001 a UN General Assembly resolution was unanimously adopted establishing September 21 as an annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence. Today, billions of people have been exposed to the peace message, resulting... Read more