Every year on September 21st, the world comes together to celebrate International Day of Peace. This is a day set aside to commemorate and strengthen a message of peace across all nations and people. Since the time it was established by the UN General Assembly in 1981, International Day of Peace has provided an opportunity for people to recognize and participate in the movement for world peace.
One (of many ways) you can celebrate is through learning about world leaders who dedicated their lives to this movement. By reading their stories, you can gain a deeper perspective of the challenges they faced and the sacrifices they made. Indeed, their work in uniting people and making our world a better place is truly worth sharing.
Below are a few inspirational reads to add to your list in commemoration of International Day of Peace. (May we suggest that these titles also make excellent additions to your book club in hopes to carry on their powerful stories).
Long Walk to Freedom – The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
The late Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, is one of the most popular world leaders who fought for peace. Growing up in apartheid South Africa (a system that regularly practiced racial segregation), Mandela advocated for equal rights of all citizens through peaceful means.
“The Long Walk to Freedom” is the autobiography that tells his story. In the book, Mandela starts off by sharing his early life experiences as a child and a student. He later takes readers through his introduction to political and social activism.
In an apartheid government that systemized racial segregation, Mandela took the lead in protesting for change and equality. His activism, done largely through peaceful demonstrations and social organization, landed him in prison for almost 3 decades. Upon his release in 1990, Mandela continued his fight for equality and peace, in the midst of violence and riots in the country.
Strength to Love – Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. needs no introduction. As an activist for civil rights in the 1960s, Dr. King advocated for equality and peace in a society that was plagued with racial segregation. Dr. King’s approach was to emphasize love for one another as the key towards ending inequality and racial discrimination.
His autobiography, “Strength to Love” is a collection of his sermons from the 1960s. He highlights the injustices of racial segregation in the United States and emphasizes a message of love and courage.
Freedom in Exile – Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is the Buddhist spiritual leader and a political voice of the Tibetan people. His autobiography “Freedom in Exile” highlights the struggles of his people and their move to Northern India. Threatened with assassination, the Dalai Lama was forced to seek exile in Dharamsala. He established an alternative Tibetan government that emphasized important basic freedoms. Via peaceful means, he has always advocated for freedom of assembly, speech, movement, and religion.
His autobiography highlights his story, starting from early childhood days and his time in China. Despite the atrocities he faced and his subsequent exile, the Dalai Lama has always emphasized a message of peace and religious values in approaching complex situations.
The Story of My Experiments with Truth – Mahatma Ghandi
Mahatma Ghandi is another well-known world leader. He led the movement of India’s independence from Britain through the use of peaceful means. Indeed, his approach of using boycotts, peaceful demonstrations, resignations, and other non-violent civil disobedience channels have been modeled in many other parts of the world. They showed that organized and peaceful civil disobedience can actually yield better results than violence.
In his autobiography, Ghandi shares his story as a young boy all the way to his role in fighting for independence. Ghandi also talks about his role in advocating for spiritual growth and peace among different religions. In particular, he plays an important role in promoting unity among Muslims and Hindus.
Gorbachev: His Life and Times – Mikhail Gorbachev
Perhaps best known for his role in helping end the cold war, former Soviet Union Leader Mikhail Gorbachev has always been an advocate for peace. At the height of communism and nuclear weapons tension in the Soviet Union, Gorbachev presided over one of the two world superpowers.
He received the nobel peace prize award in 1990 for diffusing global tensions and promoting the growth of democracy in Eastern European countries.
“Gorbachev: His Life and Times” is his story as written by William Taubman (a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist). Mikhail’s story is indeed inspirational, as he climbed up the ladder of society while living within a system designed to put people like him down. As a story of a world leader and an advocate for peace, this book is certainly worth the read.
I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai
In a society where women still struggle for equal rights to men, Malala Yousafzai’s story stands out. “I am Malala” is the autobiography of a Pakistani woman who advocated for education and peace in the country. During the height of Taliban rule, Yousafzai finds herself as a controversial figure. Her fight for education and equality is suppressed by the Pakistan Taliban regime, and an assassination attempt is made on her life.
“I am Malala” is certainly an inspirational autobiography of a young Pakistani woman who finds herself advocating for educational rights, equality and peace within a turbulent society.
Betty Williams, alongside Mairead Corrigan, took the lead in ending violence that plagued Northern Ireland since the 1920s. Betty Williams co-founded the Community of Peace People, an organization that earned her and her partner the Nobel Peace prize in 1976.
The Community of Peace People was dedicated to finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Northern Ireland. In its first declaration, the Community emphasized goals such as “to live and love and build a just and peaceful society.”
The book highlights her story and efforts towards promoting peace in her country. Betty Williams has also continued on her path to promoting world peace, as she now heads the Global Children’s Foundation.
You Are Here – Thich Nhat Hanh
“You are here” is an inspirational book of peace written by the Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh. As an advocate of using peace to solve complex world conflicts, Thich Nhat Hanh emphasizes the message of mindfulness in transforming lives and improving relationships. He also talks about healing emotional pain and emphasizing love in our relationships with others. Throughout his work, Thich Nhat Hanh has put peace at the forefront of his mission.
As you prepare for International Day of Peace, these stories of influential world leaders will give you the inspiration you need to play an active role in promoting peace in our complex society.
If you’re looking for new, inspiring reads, BookBoro is your go-to resource. We connect writers and readers in order to promote quality stories and experiences for all our members.