Peace. Unity. Hope. These words are part of our daily vernacular when associated with promoting a world filled with harmony. They’re words that elicit inspiration for a world where we can inhabit in concord with and acceptance for one another.
But since 2017–and most recently on September 21, in Atlanta, Georgia – they’ve become more than just words. Two organizations—the Rotary Club of Gwinnett County and the Ismaili Council for the Southeastern USA— commemorated the International Day of Peace with a Peace & Unity program at Georgia Gwinnett College, putting these words into practice to help the community be mindful and intentional about the role we each play in fostering peace and unity.
In attendance were members of Gwinnett’s eight rotary clubs, civic and faith leaders, Rotarians, and government and community leaders.
The event included key speeches from Jill Savitt, President/CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights; Susan Carroll, Managing Director of the Rotary Peace Center at Duke University; and President Al-Karim Alidina of the Ismaili Council for the USA. Each speech was aimed around peace and how we can build bridges to attain it.
For the Rotary Club of Gwinnett County, the establishment of peace has been its motto since its founding in 1973. Comprised of approximately 100 business leaders, the Rotary Club of Gwinnett is a member of Rotary International, which brings together over 1.4 million leaders and businesses to establish ethical standards, humanitarianism and peace around the globe. “Gwinnett is a rich melting pot of so many races, ethnicities, cultures, and heritages,” says Event Chair and Rotary District 6910 Assistant District Governor, Jennifer Hibbard. “We have much to celebrate, yet so much to learn from each other. This is a great opportunity for us to meet, share, and find ways to align for the betterment of our community.”
It makes sense, then, why the Rotary Club of Gwinnett County and the Ismaili Council would liaise. After all, inherent to the nature of Shia Islam, upon which the Ismaili Council of the Southeastern USA’s foundation is predicated, is appreciation for the diversity of mankindand peaceful co-existence. The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, believe in Allah and a present living Imam (spiritual leader)–His Highness the Aga Khan–who guides followers on faith-based matters in present-day context. Of their values and beliefs, peace, generosity and humanity are of paramount importance and the root of their network of not-for-profit organizations, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which serve to improve quality of life of individuals in 30 countries, regardless of origin, faith, or gender.
His Highness the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam and spiritual guide of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. His Highness has established the Global Center for Pluralism in Ottawa, Canada which views pluralism as a "transformative approach, predicated on valuing diversity as a foundation for a more durable, lasting peace.”
"The Ismaili Council is delighted to partner with Gwinnett Rotary on the Peace and Unity event,” says President of the Southeast Ismaili Council, Salima Jaffer. “In a world challenged today with conflict and polarization, it is events such as these that unite and provide opportunities to build bridges of peace and understanding."