November 10th: World Science Day for Peace and Development
The World Science Day for Peace and Development calls attention to the critical role that science plays in helping us to better understand planet Earth, our common home. This day also honors science’s role in creating sustainable development through international cooperation, education and implementation for the common good. The current corona virus pandemic has certainly demonstrated how quickly science can respond to global crises. In just a little over a year, cooperative international research was able to result in rapid development and testing of a vaccine to protect populations across the globe. However, many remain unvaccinated. Global distribution and vaccination efforts remain painfully slow, while thousands die each day awaiting access to these scientific breakthroughs.
Science has also made access to clean water and efficient, safe and sustainable farming possible. Likewise, solar and wind energy technologies are now a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuel but remain unavailable to many poor populations that could benefit most from their use. What remains uncertain is the political will for international cooperation to enhance access to these advances. If we are serious about eradicating extreme poverty, we must work diligently to protect the environment and address global climate change. Time is quickly running out.
The objectives of World Science Day for Peace and Development are:
- To strengthen public awareness of and respect for the role of science in building peaceful and sustainable societies
- To promote national and international solidarity for shared science among countries
- To renew national and international commitments for the use of science for the benefit of societies
- To draw attention to the challenges faced by science and to raise support for the scientific endeavor.
Holy One, we pray for scientists who have dedicated their lives to improving the quality of life for all earth’s creatures. Give them wisdom as they work for the common good. Inspire us all to implement the advances of science in a way that sustains and respects our planet’s diversity and addresses the needs of the poorest among us.
November 20—Universal Children’s Day
On November 20, 1959 the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. On this day, people around the world are asked to remember the vulnerability of children and calls on all of us to actively work to protect the rights of children. Every child has the right to adequate food, basic healthcare, shelter, education, love and a stable, caring and nurturing environment in which to grow and develop. Too often, children are exploited for cheap labor, abused sexually, denied education, and deprived of adequate food and healthcare. Every child deserves the opportunity to develop his/her full potential. In this way, they will be able to contribute to building a flourishing future for themselves and for Earth. Investing in our future means investing in each child.
Let us pray for the children of the world. Bless families who struggle to provide food, shelter, education and healthcare for their children. Open our hearts to contribute in whatever way we can to the care and sustenance of children in our own countries and around the world. Protect children, surround them with love, keep them safe and give them wisdom as they journey through life.
November 25—International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
Worldwide, violence against women affects approximately 1 of every 3 women at some time in her life. During the COVID-19 pandemic, statistics show that violence against women and girls has increased across the globe. This is so widespread that it has been called a “shadow pandemic”. This year’s theme is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!” The first step toward addressing this violence is collecting accurate information about incidence in order to develop interventions to lessen the risk, particularly for domestic violence. There is an urgent need for increased resources for preventative mental health efforts, as well as funding for multidisciplinary teams that can respond quickly and effectively when necessary. In many situations police are the only ones available to intervene, which does little to address the root causes and leaves the women vulnerable when the police depart—sometimes the women are worse off than before. All sorts of violence against women need to be addressed. No woman is safe until all women are safe. This day is a day to bring violence against women out into the open and to denounce it as the violation of human rights that it is. It is also a day to identify cultural and religious teachings and practices that are often used to justify such abuse and to demand equality for women in all aspects of life and at all levels of decision-making. Most of all, this is a day for all women to call for equal protection under the law. We urge all of us to wear orange on that day to call attention to the global effort to eliminate all forms of violence against women.
Spirit of God, we ask you to strengthen and comfort all women who suffer from sexual, psychological or physical violence. As we wear orange today to call attention to violence against women, we pray that all of us will work to end this violation of human rights. We ask you, God, to protect women as they seek safety, respect, peace and justice. Change the hearts of perpetrators of violence, that they may turn away from violence and respect their own worth, and the dignity of each person they meet.
November 29—International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
This date of November 29th was chosen because of its meaning and significance to the Palestinian people. On that day in 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 181 (II), which came to be known as the Partition Resolution. This resolution called for the partitioning of Palestine into two states—Israel and Palestine. This International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is a day to bring international attention to the fact that today, only Israel exists as a state. The Palestinian territories have still not gained internationally recognized status as a state and much of their territory continues to be occupied and their borders controlled by Israel. Many Palestinians live in extreme poverty. Coupled with a feeling of hopelessness and desperation, violence continues to flare up, endangering the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. Distrust and anger, built up over many years, make meaningful negotiations towards a two-state solution elusive. On this day, the global community is called upon to renew its commitment to the establishment of an independent, self-governing Palestine. Peace and justice in the region can only be established when Israel and Palestine are both recognized by the community of nations and can negotiate as equals for ways to improve the lives of all who live there.
God, we pray for the Palestinian people who continue to long for a country of their own, where self-governance and self-determination are possible. We pray for those Israeli and Palestinian leaders who are committed to work together to find just solutions to the problems they share. May dialogue among leaders and grass roots citizens bring about a new era of openness, empathy, understanding and trust, so that dignity, justice and peace are possible. May all parties come to realize that their mutual future security and economic flourishing depend on negotiation, respect and cooperation.