Friday, 25 August 2006

From fear to hope…?

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is promoting a Call for Freedom from Fear around the 5th Anniversary of 9/11. “Every small step we take can make a big difference in reshaping the “war on terror” - leading this country beyond the debilitation of fear and toward building a true and lasting peace. Follow this link for more about the Call…

On, Mennonite peaceworker in the middle east , Timothy Seidel, writes : “The words of Jesus to ‘not be afraid’ are always challenging. Perhaps they seem most difficult because at their core, they form a call to repentance, a call to turn away from the illusions of self-sustainability and self-righteousness, the idolatry of war and violence, to hear the gospel’s call to conversion to a life modelled by the self-giving love of Jesus. It is a subject demand calling us, as Merton tells it, to a love and a humility that can ‘exorcise the fear which is at the root of all war.’ ”

Soft Power? An interesting peace from Indra Adnan on ‘Soft Power’ - as an alternative to the hard power of militarism, materialism etc. She writes “… ‘soft’ knowledge is crucial to the diplomatic and conflict resolution skills required in our fissile world. For this reason, as Scilla Ellworthy’s recent Demos report notes, tackling terrorism is women’s work.’ …discuss!

Meanwhile, back at FCNL, Joe Volk writes about the Middle East… “We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work opening the way to peace in our own communities and through our civil society organisations’ work abroad and through governments’ good offices in the Middle East. He identify three key themes and five steps that need to be taken… read it here: ***

Wimps for Peace? George Monbiot, writing in the Guardian, draws attention to the current priority issue for the Campaign Against Arms Trade, the desire to see the closure of the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), which plays such a key role in promoting exports of British-made military hardware around the world. He asks: “why are government ministers, even Blair himself, prepared to reduce themselves to hawkers on behalf of arms merchants” and concludes “There appears to be a sense among some at the core of government that peace, human rights and democracy are for wimps, while the serious business, for real players, is war and the means by which it is enacted.”

Paul Rogers reflects on the 5th anniversary of the War on Terror with a longer-than-usual analysis on the OpenDemocracy website, commenting on the real practical and political challenges, but urging once again for a rethinking of the security paradigm that is shaping Britain and America’s approach to these concerns. “A fundamentally changed security paradigm is an urgent necessity”, he writes in conclusion and that “unless there is such a change, the world may well … be just five years in [a] thirty-year war.

It’s a long haul. One person who recognises the long-term and global aspects of peace building is Jean Beliveau, a French Canadian who is part way his walk around the countries of the world to promote peace and the Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World. He travelled through Britain most recently, and said in an interview for the Scotsman newspaper “I’m not trying to change the world…. I just want to touch the minds of people, and if people take just one moment of reflection, I’m satisfied”. Read about his World Wide Walk here

Another simple effort to keep hope burning is that started by two Friends in North Lancashire, asking people to light candles between 9 and 10 each evening as a sign of hope that there will be peace in the Middle East. Read about it and get posters here.