Statement by H.E. Ambassador Katalin Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the UN at the celebration of the International Day of Happiness at the United Nations on 20 March 2016.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I learned from my Buddhist friends: Peace begins with a smile!
What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind.
So first of all, let us put happy thoughts into our mind!
If you want happiness for an hour—take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day—go fishing.
If you want happiness for a month—get married.
If you want happiness for a year—inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime—help others.
- Chinese proverb
I think you cannot be happy unless you are part of a bigger structure.
The UN was born out of reality – it represents the response of humanity to the real horrors of war, and is based on the reality of Sovereign Member States coming together to seek ways towards peace.
But it was also born from the quest for ideals, ideals of lasting peace between all peoples of the world, despite the heavy burden of violent past, sorting from the transformation of people’s minds by “building defenses of peace” in them.
Especially in an era where the world is confronted with many conflicts the doctrine of non-violence, understanding, compassion and peace holds hope for mankind.
This day is about recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There are many things in today’s world that do not give reason for happiness: We have lived to see horrendous things happening in the world. Conflicts, bloodshed and human suffering are ongoing.
But we should never forget that societies have a tremendous indigenous knowledge and vast cultural resources – let us call it cultural know-how, to guide them towards peaceful coexistence. Sometimes we forget that despite the periods of conflicts, people have lived together for ages, mixing with and learning from each other, exchanging views, experiences, adopting various elements of others’ cultures.
The task before us is to identify those cultural phenomena that have historically “glued” the communities of different backgrounds together in harmonious co-existence.
For me, these cultural unifying factors can be found in literature, oral and written traditions, artistic expressions, sites of common cultural heritage, even the examples of gastronomy!
Understanding the indigenous forces and processes that promote tolerance, mutual acceptance and cooperation is the first step towards relearning how to focus on these positive factors. This is especially relevant in places where peace had broken down and conflict has shifted focus away from cooperation and towards division and hatred.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our deliberations on peace and ways to foster it will remain abstract musings if we do not apply them to the real life, to the real situations and people on the ground, if we do not try to make a real difference.
This is the first year that member states celebrate the International Day of Happiness since the international community committed itself with resounding unity to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ambitious and transformative framework which represents our best chance to put our world on sustainable path, to build a people and planet centered future with hope, including for future generations, of not only survival, but prosperity and general well-being.
We envisaged a world free of poverty, hunger, and disease. A world free of fear and violence. A world with equitable and universal access to quality education at all levels, to health care and social protection, where all three pillars of each and every SDG, economic, social and environmental, well-being are assured. We committed ourselves to the universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, good governance, justice, equality and non-discrimination.
I am a dreamer, an optimist, an activist!
I believe that we should have our dreams, be an optimist and be an activist! So, we have to take responsibilities for our actions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Hungary, among others, has been particularly active in the field of gender equality, the empowerment of women and ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including family planning, information and education, and in promoting of the role of women in sustainable management of water.
In Hungary, we are also convinced that the promotion of the rights of children, including in the areas of education, health care and the fight against poverty for children is at the heart of sustainable development. We are implementing a myriad of measures and cooperating with international organization with a view to ensuring the well-being of young and future generations.
Happiness can only be achieved by human development, of the people; by the people; and for the people.
Only development, where people are both the drivers and recipients of development, where interests of future generations are safeguarded, can be sustainable. Full and effective implementation will require true involvement and ownership of people, communities and all humanity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
But to be able to be happy, you have to have the ability of appreciation.
As in music, the pause itself is part of the composition, in life the pause itself is part of realization that we are alive.
We need to stop and pause for appreciation, too.
Appreciation of beauty, health, the sun, the beauty of a face or the flowers, of holding hands, of love and friendship, appreciation of the creation and the will itself for any tiny little step towards the betterment of our world.
Happiness is something we create and not wait for. Happiness is something we aim and work for; happiness is a constant curiosity, challenge and action.
I am a diplomat who believes that multilateral and cultural diplomacy can help indeed in bridging people, and if we do it well, it can give us a chance at least to try not to misunderstand but understand each other.
And that is the starting point for mutual acceptance.
Thank you for your attention.