Peace on Earth by 2010

Well, 2009 is the International Year of Reconciliation.

Saturday 14 March 2009, by Michael Ryan Wiseman

March is International Women’s Month.
And what better way is there to celebrate
the contributions to our planet of more
than 50% of the world’s people than
to offer them a full 1/12 of the year as
a token of gratitude. Yes, a whopping
31 days— note that Women were not
short changed with one of those 30-day
months like September, which incidentally
and without a hint of bitterness, is
(seriously and sadly) Be Kind to Editors
& Writers Month, nor were they offered
the diminutive February like those who
are unfortunate enough to be (again
seriously and sadly, but for altogether
different reasons) rescued rabbits in
need of adopting or sweet potatoes.

Within these 31 days of plenty, highlights
are sure to include March 8th, which is
International Working Women’s Day as
well as the Day For Women’s Rights
And International Peace. Now, women
have the reputation of being deft multitaskers
but surely this is asking too much
of them— although I’m sure if they were
given the week. March 9th, mind you,
may be a let down following the lofty
ambitions of its predecessor: it is Barbie
Day. Eerily, it is also Get Over It Day.

Please forgive the jocular tone of a piece
that is attempting to deal with an issue
of primary importance to the wellbeing
of our species, but it would be remiss
to ignore the fact that it is also (ahem)
International Mirth Month. But seriously
folks, as it is also Small Press Month
(thanking in advance those wishing to
support this noblest of causes) this is
an ideal forum to reflect upon all the
progress that has been made over
the past century in terms of extending
fairness to the fairer sex. Why, way back
in 1911 women were only permitted a
single day in March— and prior to that
they had none all year. That’s a 365-fold
increase in less than 100 years!

Lend me your ears (it is International
Listening Awareness Month too) and then
decide whether the remaining 11 months
of the year should be used alternately
between patting each other on the back
for our magnificent generosity and resting
proudly on the laurels of a job well done.
According to UN figures:
• Of the 1 billion poorest people, 600
million of them are women
• Of the 960 million illiterate adults, twothirds
of them are women
• Each year 500,000 women die
unnecessarily during childbirth
• Only 16% of elected government
officials around the world are women

This makes for grim reading— and these
figures are but the tip of the proverbial
iceberg. Fortunately, whomever it is that
decides these things decreed it to be
International Ideas Month to boot. My
idea? I humbly suggest that we forget
this business of marking everything we
care about— everything that can help the
greater-good— on a calendar.

Rampant calendarization risks trivializing
those issues that are actually of
paramount importance; reducing them to
factoids, converting them into minutiae,
losing them in the herd, pouring them
into the humdrum of the news cycle.

Like comets trapped in our orbit, they
reappear with great fanfare at regular
intervals, whereupon our collective
conscience mulls over whatever the
issue may happen to be that particular
day/month/year so that we can all
promise, with earnest verve and to
rapturous applause, to address it.

Midnight strikes; the spell is broken.
The twelfth toll bids the issue to return
from whence it came to be replaced by
the next one. But don’t worry, that same
issue— still, of course, unresolved— will
come back to our skies again. And when
it does, it will be brighter than ever. Until,
one day, the gravity is such that it falls
clear out of the sky and onto our heads.

Fear not, gentle reader, there is hope.
After all, March is Optimism Month. And
April? It is Informed Women Month.

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