WORLD DAY FOR CULTURAL DIVERSITY: Do One Thing

Multiethnic children painting a multicolored mural of stick figures

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

TUESDAY, MAY 21 – Do One Thing for diversity in your corner of the world today, in honor of the UN’s World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. Adapted from UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in 2002, this global observance illustrates the inseparable link between intercultural understanding and stability, development and the elimination of poverty. According to the UN, three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts contain a cultural dimension.

THE ‘DO ONE THING’ CAMPAIGN

The best way to spread word of diversity in the 21st century is—you guessed it—Facebook! A grassroots campaign of “Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion” was launched in 2011, fueled by the movement’s Facebook page. At this page, citizens around the world can share their experiences through posts, photos and videos. This year, organizers hope to raise awareness of the vitality of intercultural dialogue, to continue building a world community and to aid in resisting stereotypes. The idea resonates that each person can do one thing to promote cultural diversity, with the conclusion that every small movement makes a difference on a global level. (Read more from the UN Alliance of Civilizations.)

Stumped on how you can participate? The UN provides a list of 10 suggestions on how to celebrate, including everything from visiting a local museum that features other cultures to volunteering with an organization that works for diversity and inclusion.

Care to learn more? Check out the UN’s site for the Alliance of Civilizations, which works for both intercultural and interreligious dialogues. As pointed out by UN officials, engaging in successful dialogue is a learned experience—one that requires the release of prejudice and a willingness to remain open-minded. Perhaps most importantly, peaceful dialogue concerns us all, from leaders to everyday citizens.

Even more: While working to spread pluralism, remember that politics are involved, too. Global development cannot occur without mutual understanding: public policies and partnerships are greatly dependent upon the acceptance of other cultures and peoples. Urge your local government officials to incorporate these ideals into their decisions.

Curious how countries of the world measure up in terms of ethnic diversity? This map, from the Washington Post, shows the world’s least and most ethnically diverse countries—and each country in between.

DAG HAMMARSKJOLD:
A LEGEND’S ANNIVERSARY, BACK IN THE NEWS

The recipient of a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize and named “the greatest statesman of our century” by President John F. Kennedy, former Secretary-General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold is the subject of a major new biography this year—and the biographer will be featured in an interview with ReadTheSpirit this summer. The Swedish diplomat, economist and author served eight years for the United Nations, ending with his death in a plane crash en route to cease-fire negotiations. (Read more on his life at Wikipedia.) Hammarskjold’s only book, known as Markings in English-speaking countries, was published 50 years ago in 1963.

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