Contrary to popular misconception, Global Family Day is not so much about appreciation of the family unit as it is about world peace. Why clarify this point? Because one comment that frequently pops up across the internet when this day is discussed suggests, "We don't need an official day—I appreciate my family all year 'round."
While that is a laudable and important concept, in one way it entirely misses the point of Global Family Day.
The United Nations initially established January 1, 2000, as "One Day in Peace" in response to a number of grassroots organizations across the globe which were calling for an internationally recognized day for the cessation of violence and war. As the day moved to an annual observance its name was influenced by the wording of various national resolutions and eventually "One Day in Peace" morphed into "One Day of Peace and Sharing" and then to the more cumbersome "Gobal Family Day: One Day of Peace and Sharing."
Whatever one calls the day, however, the underlying intent is the same: To recognize the fact that humanity is one family and that envy, exploitation, fear, discrimination and violence between nations is pointless and self-destructive. In the words of the U.S. organization for Global Family Day, the idea is to encourage "global traditions which can in turn help us overcome the challenges of poverty, hunger and violence which face our global family in century ahead." In other words, the goal is to replace war and poverty with peace and prosperity.
What sorts of global traditions lead to peace and prosperity? To boil it down to basics, the ideal "love your neighbor as yourself" probably says it best. And of course, the teaching of such ideologies does begin within individual families.
But this is precisely the idea that Global Family Day symbolizes on the individual level: much more than the simple tradition of appreciating one's own family, it symbolizes sowing the seeds of deeply held ideologies of the sort that lead to peace rather than violence. One need look no further than the current situation in Gaza to acknowledge that simple appreciation of one's own family can't ensure world peace. Certainly, there are those on both sides of that conflict who are at peace within the comfort zone they call family.
With that in mind, one might ask: if it's possible to achieve a certain level of peace within the individual family unit, why is peace so hard for nations to secure? Assuming that it's what most of the world wants—at least on some level—why is it so elusive?
Very likely it has something to do with the fact that no matter how pointless and self-destructive we recognize them to be, tendencies toward envy, distrust, discrimination, exploitation, greed, retaliation and violence are just too deeply rooted in the human psyche. And the more disconnected from others we imagine ourselves to be, the easier it is to act on these tendencies.