Wednesday, 19 December 2007
'There are a handful of books that I think of as "the secret library of hope." None of them deny the awful things going on, but they approach them as if the future is still open to intervention rather than an inevitability. In describing how the world actually gets changed, they give us the tools to change it again.'
The list covers books from William Morris's 'News from Nowhere' to the more recent 'The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People;' by Jonathan Schell
Her article concludes that 'In ceasing the scramble for things, there would be real gains; we’d gain back time for sitting around talking at leisure about politics and the neighbors, for wandering around on foot — and for reading. But you don’t have to wait for everything to change: change it yourself by seizing these pleasures now.'
Study War No More
This is a report published jointly by Campaign Against Arms Trade and Fellowship of Reconciliation, providing information about the funding of UK universities by military organisations. It hopes to support students concerned about their own institutions and to encourage debate. The report can be downloaded, with more information and data and ideas for further research and campaigning, from www.studywarnomore.org.uk 01865 748 796
David Gee, with funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, has produced a report and web resources on the information provided to potential military recruits and whether it really enables them to make an informed choice about enlistment to the armed forces. The main web site -- www.informedchoice.org.uk -- also links to: www.beforeyousignup.info, aiming to give independent information about the reality of a career in the armed forces. (the main material on these is due out in January)
Not In Our Name
We’ve not heard this CD yet, but are impressed by the line-up of folk artists on this compilation CD, with its focus on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The material has been donated, with proceeds going to Stop the War Coalition. Available for £10 +£1 p&p from Stop the War coalition at: http://tinyurl.com/37qnc6 Telephone 020 7278 6694
Post orders to 27 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JP
Faslane 365 Poster
Celebrating the completion of the Faslane 365 blockades, a poster has been produced, being a collage of photos of some of the many banners, people etc. who appeared there during the year.You can see it at www.faslane365.org. Posters can be ordered by calling 0845 4588365 or emailing info@ faslane365.org (£2 each plus postage and packing).
A Climate of Conflict
This important report, from International Alert, looks at the social and human consequences that are likely to ensue from climate change – particularly the risks of conflict and instability – and makes recommendations for how we should be preparing to respond. Available to download from: www.international-alert.org and for phone enquiries contact: 020 7627 6800
Friday, 23 November 2007
"As consumers we need to question the products we buy and challenge the companies who produce them. What are the true risks to the environment and developing countries? The argument is infinite - while it continues we should be looking for simple solutions - Buy Nothing Day is a good place to start. "
This in its turn echoes the words written in 1793 by John Woolman, the early Quaker activist, mystic and visionary. Here's a good chunk of what he wrote, making very clear the connection he felt between unnescessary posessions, right living and war. Challenging stuff:
From A Plea for the Poor
"Wealth is attended with power, by which bargains and proceedings, contrary to universal righteousness, are supported; and hence oppression, carried on with worldly policy and order, clothes itself with the name of justice and becomes like a seed of discord in the soul. And as this spirit which wanders from the pure habitation prevails, so the seeds of war swell and sprout, and grow, and become strong, until much fruit is ripened. Then cometh the harvest spoken of by the prophet, which "is a heap, in the day of grief and desperate sorrows."(2)"
"Oh! that we who declare against wars, and acknowledge our trust to be in God only, may walk in the light, and therein examine our foundation and motives in holding great estates! May we look upon our treasures, and the furniture of our houses, and the garments in which we array ourselves, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions, or not. Holding treasures in the self-pleasing spirit is a strong plant, the fruit whereof ripens fast."
Having said all that, we're a bit out of.... at home and tomorrow might be a good day to go shopping!!
Thursday, 22 November 2007
Thursday, 15 November 2007
"We can all make positive change in our city and world, especially if we work co-operatively. We just need to imagine that better future, then work hard to make it real.
Together for Peace's vision is to work with people throughout our city to inspire and help them to make these changes real. Please browse around to find out more, be inspired, get involved... and, in all this, 'be the change you hope to see in the world' (Gandhi)."
Lots happening over the next 10 days... so if you can get to Leeds, find out more at: http://tfp.endis.com
And have a look at their events diary.
If you can't get to Leeds, does this all inspire you to try to do something similar in your city, town, village or street?
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
A TALE OF TWO POPPIES
TALKING WITH CHILDREN ABOUT REMEMBRANCE - from the Peace Pledge Union
Red, white, or none at all? The great poppy debate, article in the Independent, November 2006
Remembrance and Reconciliation: Reflection and Hope
Talk given by Janet Quilley at a NFPB 'Peace is Growing' day in Manchester on
11 November 2000
Friday, 12 October 2007
Monday, 8 October 2007
We call on all Americans to join in fasting from dawn to dusk on Monday, October 8, to call for an end to the Iraq War. On this day, people of faith in local communities across our nation will act as catalysts to transform the meaning of the day from one of conquest to community and from violence to reverence.
Anglican archbishop Rowan Williams, meanwhile, is quoted by Ekklesia (who in turn are reporting on his comments to the BBC) as saying:
"we do hear talk from some quarters of action against Syria and Iran" but that "I can't understand what planet such persons are living on, when you see the conditions that are already there."Dr Williams continued: "When people talk about further destabilization of the region and you read some American political advisers speaking of action against Syria and Iran, I can only say that I regard that as criminal, ignorant and potentially murderous folly."
His fellow Anglican, archbishop Desmond Tutu, has obviously also been more outspoken than some are comfortable with. Read the news piece here ("Minnesota College Bans Nobel Laureate Tutu From Talk On Peace and Justice") about the puzzling decision to prevent him speaking at an American college ...
And whilst Iran's president Ahmadinejad was allowed to talk but not exactly warmly welcomed at another US academic institution at the end of September, he did have a rather less-widely reported encounter with a sizeable group of church-related people ... "Religious Leaders Dialogue with Iranian President Provides Glimpses of the Road Ahead", reported on the FCNL website
"While much of the press coverage of the president’s visit to the United States has focused on the confrontation and exchanges of angry words in other venues, in our conversation this September at the Church Center at the United Nations we had some serious discussions, we disagreed on many points, but we had a respectful dialogue. "
Monday, 1 October 2007
This book aims to raise awareness among government policy-makers, the media, potential funders and the general public of the extraordinary cost-effectiveness of those working non-violently at the front line of conflict. It is intended as an introduction to the field of conflict prevention and resolution, from the perspective of what has actually worked in the field, using concrete examples.
Firstly, on the Guardian’s Comment is Free pages, Pankaj Mishra writes under the heading …
The Burmese monks' spiritual strength proves religion has a role in politics,
arguing that Buddhism and its values have inspired a tradition of non-violent protest more powerful than secularists understand - and lots of passionately expressed comment in response
A new publicity effort apparently begins today, organised by www.islamispeace.org.uk, which "aims to address the negative perceptions and stereotypes of Islam and British Muslims. We intend to do this through media engagement to reach out to the wider community across the United Kingdom."
And on Ekklesia read that a church group has been blockading a Total petrol station in protest at that company’s involvement in Burma. The church in question is Just Church - an interesting radical faith-based initiative in this constantly innovative community.
Ekklesia also notes that Incitement to religious hatred will today become a criminal offence in England and Wales with the commencement of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act.
Meanwhile, the World Council of Churches has been meeting in Armenia and has written a minute about Iran and the Middle East, and a statement on the tragic situation facing Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people.
And finally on CommonDreams, Stephen Zunes, reflecting on a meeting with Iran’s President Ahmadinejad writes:
Both Ahmadinejad and George W. Bush have used their fundamentalist interpretations of their faith traditions to place the world in a Manichean perspective of good versus evil. The certitude of their positions regardless of evidence to the contrary, their sense that they are part of a divine mission, and their largely successful manipulation of their devoutly religious constituents have put these two nations on a dangerous confrontational course.
Saturday, 29 September 2007
Friday, 28 September 2007
"It is clear that since we published the SITL report, the military has put in place plans to expand and strengthen its involvement with and influence over the UK science and technology sector with significant emphasis on building and further consolidating links with universities.Yet it is also increasingly clear that the narrow, high-technology, weapons-based aproach to tackling international tensions and conflicts is failing in many situations."
Wednesday, 26 September 2007
Now the DDA has been closed, though the government's objectives don't seem to have changed - spin-ins and spin-offs through other means. One of these other means goes by the extraordinary name of Ploughshare Innovations Ltd. This is a 'technology transfer company' set up by The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory "to actively pursue the commercial exploitation of publicly funded research for the benefit of all". Now, my understanding is that this 'all' means that the defence industry benefits still more, as it sells its technological expertise to a wider market. How about dispensing with the swords altogether and just focusing on the ploughshares?
The vision of arms conversion, rather than diversification, still has an important place and is promoted again in a recent CND report, Trident and Employment, in which the writer Steven Schofield says:
"Rather than follow this course [of building a replacement to the Trident system at Barrow in Furness], the UK could adopt an arms conversion policy that sees the savings from the cancellation of FOS [Follow-on System to the current generation of Trident] used to support civil R&D and production. In this way the UK could satisfy 50% of its electricity generation needs from a multi-billion pound investment in offshore wind and wave power, providing 25,000 to 30,000 jobs, that would more than compensate for lost military employment, while significantly reducing carbon emissions and enhancing security of supply."
Swords... who needs 'em!?
Here's a useful analysis on Open Democracy.
The Burma Campaign UK has a number of action suggestions
and AVAAZ has organised an international petition, " Stand with the Burmese Protesters"
Finally, an inspiring poster apparently being carried by protesting monks
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
"... while we've won the wars it's been harder to win the peace.
"The lesson is that while there are military victories there never is a military 'solution'. [my emphasis added]
"There's only military action that creates the space for economic and political life."
I will be very interested to know what his colleagues in the Government have to say on this matter. And if they agree, whether this statement means anything in practice. I can't quite see the use of Trident nuclear weapons as a particularly useful tool for creating 'space for economic and political life' - any thoughts on how that might work?!
And if there is government unity behind these sentiments, what are the non-military solutions that the UK will now be investing in, given that it has realised the limits of militarism as a tool for building peace? Do you think we might be told?
Tuesday, 18 September 2007
" .... Greenspan's uncharacteristic glasnost is helpful at a time when the campaign for a further war against Iran appears to be gathering significant momentum. ....... Every time a politician tries to convince you that the next war in the US campaign to run the Middle East is unavoidable for this reason or that, just remember Alan Greenspan. Let's not wait five years for some other ruling class Grand Vizier to reveal the blindingly obvious. It's about the oil, stupid, and it should be stopped before it starts."
Bringing the twin issues of war and oil dependency together is a US campaign, No War No Warming, which is planning a nonviolent demonstration in Washington DC on 22 October, stating on their website...
We need to take immediate action…
…To end the war in Iraq and all future oil wars
…To halt the impending climate crisis
…To end the US addiction to oil and other fossil fuels
…To rebuild New Orleans and all impacted communities
…To end racism and corporate greed
…To promote green jobs in a clean energy economy
HOW MANY TIMES
DO WE HAVE TO SAY NO?
Monday, 17 September 2007
And if you're not a Quaker or that interested, have you remembered Peace Day, this Friday, 21st September?
The Friends Committee on National Legislation has put together a useful briefing (updated just last week) on the issue ... "The Anatomy of the U.S.-Iran Dispute: Why War Is Not the Answer". This is written for a US audience, but is a handy and up-to-date paper for those of us in the UK and elsewhere. The regular updates from BASIC are also key resources for anyone wishing to keep abrest of these matters. It's also timely to post a reminder about the Crisis Iran report "Time to Talk"
There may not be 2 million of us demonstrating in London, but I can't believe many of in this country would support any UK involvement in military action against Iran. The ongoing shock and awe in Iraq is about as brutal a warning as we'll need, isn't it??
Thursday, 6 September 2007
Thursday, 16 August 2007
Another bit of heavy-duty military-based "peace building". This time in the form of a massive commitment (30 billion US dollars) by the Univted States to continue providing military aid to Israel. According to a BBC report
[US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns] called the aid package an "investment in peace", saying "peace cannot be made without strength".
"Needless to say, given Israel's predicament, living in a region that is very violent and unstable, its military edge is of interest to our country, and we've committed to that," he said.
The money must be used to purchase military equipment from the US defence industry, although Israel will also be permitted to use 26.3% to buy equipment from local companies.
To be honest, this really sounds more like an investment in the US weapons industry than an investment in peace. Now what would $30 bn buy in non-military peacebuilding capacity? If only someone with access to that sort of money asked themselves the same question.
Friday, 10 August 2007
Thursday, 9 August 2007
Some useful links:
UK's DESO Done In
Faith and peace groups wecome DESO closure
Export department closure leaves defence firms out in the cold
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
The latter commented:
'The decision in December 2002 to accede to a US upgrade at Fylingdales set a poor precedent in terms of process, transparency and accountability. The Defence Committee "strongly regretted the way in which the issue had been handled by the Government". This latest announcement is a further escalation in Britain's missile defence commitment without public debate or parliamentary scrutiny.'
MPs may be enjoying a recess from parliamentary duties, but perhaps this will give them more time to deal with correspondence from constituents on the matter. Can't find a pen and paper? Why not contact yours via WriteToThem.org.uk
As David comes to the end of his epic cycle ride, I received an email today reminding me of the extraordinary walk for peace being undertaken by Canadian Jean Béliveau, who set of from his home in Canada on 18th August 2000. He passed through the UK not so long ago, and I was sorry not to have a chance to meet him. The latest news is that he is walking through Iran. His purpose? … is to walk around the planet to promote "Peace and non-violence to the profit of the children of the world" and aims to complete the entire walk within 12 years.
Another venture just reaching its conclusion is the Footprints for Peace interfaith walk from Dublin to London, which has stopped at Faslane, Menwith Hill and Aldermaston - amongst many other places - along the way. A number of Friends have met with and joined the walkers for different stages of their journey. This group says that … "Through our actions we create the opportunity for multi cultural interfaith prayer and ceremony to deepen our spiritual, cultural and environmental awareness and understanding that All Life is Sacred. To empower, raise awareness and inspire individuals and community. Creating peaceful change through action."
Walking and making journeys in this way seems to be both an outward and an inward act – I recall many years ago hearing about Satish Kumar's long Ghandi-inspired peace walks in the early 1960s, and he is certainly one who sees such initiatives in this way. It seems to be about making oneself vulnerable and open to being in contact both with the earth but also a wide range of people in many different circumstances. An antidote to sitting on air-conditioned high-speed trains with head phones plugged in as I was just last week, and perhaps a simple reminder of our need for one another, our common humanity.
Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Sunday, 29 July 2007
The theme, Faith into Action, was explored in a linear fashion as the week progressed, beginning with sessions on waiting and discernment, through preparation and planning to action and then nurturing and sustaining our witness. There were gems in many of the contributions from the platform, but also in the numerous conversations and encounters with people in the course of the week. Recordings and transcripts of the presentations are being made available on the gathering's website here.
In the middle of the week I joined two coach loads of Quakers to Faslane, where we had a Quaker Meeting for Worship, met with a group of visiting Japanese peace activists - some being survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs – and then witnessed a tremendously moving act of nonviolent action by some of them at the gates of the nuclear weapons base.
Origami paper cranes being tied to the fence at Faslane...
... and laid in the entrance to the accompaniment of Japanese singing
Meanwhile, back in the wider world, I’ve been deeply disappointed to learn of the decision by Defence Secretary Des Browne to allow the
The NFPB display during the 'fair' at the gathering
And what about the weather…!? In
Wednesday, 18 July 2007
Friday, 6 July 2007
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
"prospects in the Middle East [are] much healthier than they were five years ago."
Who says so? Looking at news headlines over the past month, you'd be hard pushed to find many people who would agree. But, it all depends on your perspective. The sentence above is quoted from a news item about the booming UK arms export business.
And just in case you thought enough was enough, (best year in almost a decade apparently, at $10 billion in 2006 and second only the US) we read that ...
"Britain [is] looking to Asia to grow its export footprint".
Not the kind of impression that many of us would like to see our country making in the world, I feel.
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
"If only we can get that number up to 1.5 trillion, the world might be safe again!", followed by "1.2 trillion could buy alotta solar panels.".
That last sentence summing up the futility of throwing resources and ingenuity at something so destructive when the could be used to such good effect elsewhere. The mind boggles!
David Gee at QPSW has done a helpful job at sifting through some of the facts and figures - read it here.
Monday, 11 June 2007
Also mildly encouraging is the Church of England's decision to raise its voice about the use of Manchester Cathedral as a back drop of a Sony computer game that depicts animated violence. But again, some might wish to take this a lot further. Isn't human life sacred wherever it is, and having its destruction as a form of entertainment sickening regardless of the visual context in which it is supposed to be happening?
The important thing in both these cases is to take encouragement that the kind of concerns we have are shared by many others. Raising them in public can often be dispiriting, but occasionally it just seems to catch the media's attention and some shift in what is and what isn't ethically acceptable (Or at least a discussion about it) can happen.
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
21 years ago, Mary Lou Leavitt gave a talk to Northern Friends Peace Board on the spiritual challenge of SDI/ 'Star Wars' , as the earlier envisaged missile defence programme was nicknamed. We published this as a booklet from which I quote...
"In answer to the proud vision of SDI - that impermeable shield for the good guys at the expense of the bad guys (or the third world guys who don't count) - Friends have a vision of a world where all are equally valued: a world where I am as valuable as the most powerful, most wise, most expert person I can name; a world where all others - the least of these my brothers and sisters - are as valuable as I; a world where, together, we can learn to trust the Seed of the Spirit in one another. In place of a process which trusts technology and mistrusts humanity, we must learn and live out a process that builds trust between people and their institutions."
The splendid OpenDemocracy website has this week published a series of articles arising from the Nobel Women's Initiative, in the latest of which Ann Carr concludes:
"I believe that honest dialogue, no matter how difficult, is the cement that holds societies together. By hearing one another we create new possibilities. We share, we learn, we realise that the creation of a shared society, where we can all belong, is possible. ... There comes a time when people lose their fear and things are never the same again. That is the moment when the foundations of a brighter future have been secured - and the real work can begin."I don't imagine the G8 summit will produce a lot of reasons for optimism, but there are enough people now who do know that another way is not only possible, but also necessary and effective in building lasting peace. It may not be present at big summits, but its implementation by small groups and individuals throughout the world can make a difference. Let us hope.
Tuesday, 8 May 2007
Our societies are awaiting the emergence of a new “We”. A “We” that would bring together men and women, citizens of all religion-and those without religion-who would undertake together to resolve the contradictions of their society: the right to work, to housing, to respect, against racism and all forms of discrimination, all offenses against human dignity.
Lots more good stuff in his writings, and I think a fitting note on which to mark the 1st anniversary of this blog.
Friday, 4 May 2007
- The latest IPCC report ... according to the BBC: (Climate change 'can be tackled') The growth in greenhouse gas emissions can be curbed at reasonable cost, experts at a major UN climate change conference in Bangkok have agreed. Boosting renewable energy, reducing deforestation and improving energy efficiency can all help, they said.
- The election results: The BNP have been a lot less successful in the local elections than they had hoped and many had feard (although they seem to have done worryingly well - percentage-wise) in North Wales (see Guardian report) , which states: "A coordinated effort by the main parties to minimise the electoral threat from the party seemed to have paid off after the BNP was forced to concede "a mixed result"."
- Change of mindset: Paul Rogers, on OpenDemocracy, speculates that the change of Prime Minister (presumably Gordon Brown) opens up the opportunity for a change of thinking at the heart of power on foreign and security policy - we shall see.
- Reith Lectures: Jeffrey Sachs, in the latest Reith Lecture, "Economic Solidarity for a Crowded Planet".... "Let us resolve to honor our commitments in the fight against poverty, hunger, and disease. Our commitments are small compared with our vast wealth, and the benefits will be vast. We have the power to save millions of lives each year, to help slow a burgeoning population growth in the poorest countries, and to reduce, if not end, the conflicts and wars caused by extreme poverty, which threaten peace everywhere. This, truly, is the work of our generation. "
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
"This important book shows why this approach has been such a failure, and how it distracts us from other, much greater, threats:
* Climate change
* Competition over resources
* Marginalisation of the majority world
* Global militarisation"
And in The Guardian John Gittings helpfully (I think) makes the connection between these issues, the tensions with Iran and US plans to site Missile Defence infrastructure in Central Europe. And on the same day, AC Grayling reflects on Hilary Benn's appeal to desist from using the terms 'War on Terror' - again focussing on the deeper causes of resentment and insecurity; this seems to back up this thinking. The fact that these different issues are so interlinked could be seen as a problem - how do you tackle one without dealing with the other? Alternatively, it could be the best reason yet for the massive change of thinking that many are seeking. Janet Bloomfield will be remembered in future editions of the new book from ORG, I gather (as one closely linked with the publication project), and a fitting memorial to her would for strenuous energies to be expended to promote this agenda in whatever ways possible.
Monday, 16 April 2007
Thursday, 5 April 2007
Tuesday, 3 April 2007
"in our view, we are living in the scariest moment since the Cuban missile crisis when the world was carried to the brink of nuclear war in a confrontation between the United States and Russia. The difference is that there is still time for citizens and their representatives to stop this descent into violence and destructiveness. So this week we are asking you to read, practice, and act to create a peace surge. We'll explore the other part of this process, creating inner peace to enable you to keep up your activism, in the weeks ahead."
Another type approach to spirituality and peace comes from the World Council of Churches' 'Decade to Overcome Violence', which announced in the last week details of the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation, taking place in May 2011. Leading up to that they envisage "a major worldwide moblization of churches for peace". This will all be fed into a Declaration on Just Peace which will be "an act of public witness and an affirmation of enduring hope ina world torn apart by violence". The press release about this also mentions the need for the declaration to acknowledge the wrongs that Christian churches have committed over the centuries, and - encouragingly - will seek to learn from insights from other faiths.
QPSW, on the Peace Exchange website, meanwhile writes: "Despite the disappointing outcome of the vote, this is not the end of this story: it will take years to build the new submarines and the argument for doing so is rusting away as inexorably as the current fleet. We will keep you informed of future Trident-related events and actions as they come up. In the meantime, you can still make use of the QPSW "Don't Replace Trident!" resources, and take action at Faslane naval base and Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment."
Interesting issues arising with the ongoing Faslane 365 blockades. Local residents are objecting to the disruption to their lives by people blockading the main road outside the base, and have recently had their own protest event (see the article in The Scotsman). The Faslane 365 core team is encouraging blockaders to be aware of this and to bear it in mind when planning actions - for instance, taking into account school exams coming up etc. But the blockades continue, with both groups of people trying to do what they must do whilst not trampling on each others' toes unnecessarily.
Thursday, 8 March 2007
on Wednesday 14th March: Trident Vote Day 5 – 6 pm in Parliament Square Central London
Faith-based communities are invited to join together in silent witness on the day of the House of Commons vote on the future of Britain’s nuclear weapons.
There will also be other events and actions taking place on the day of the vote. For more information on these, please visit: www.tridentvoteday.org.uk
The vigil is supported by: Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, Christian CND, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pax Christi and Quaker Peace & Social Witness.
We are urged not to give up if the vote does go in favour of replacement, however. The tide of public opinion seems to be changing and the actual implementation of policy is a long-term issue that can be challenged every step of the way.
And don't forget to get your copy of the QPSW poster at the beginning of this blog, available to download from here and to get in hard copy from here.
Friday, 16 February 2007
In ' Britain’s 21st-century defence' Paul Rogers on the openDemocracy website focuses on two crucial bits of majory military hardware spending the UK government might be making a commitment to shortly - including of course, Trident.
He concludes: "Instead of a restricted outlook that sees matter purely in terms of defence of the realm, a review could embrace a much more global perspective, recognising that entirely new security thinking will be needed to face 21st-century challenges. With worldwide socio-economic marginalisation and environmental constraints such as climate change likely to be the real global-security issues over the next decades, this key decision might just open up space for some fresh approaches to sustainable security"
Similary, Steve Schofield in Oceans of Work: Arms Conversion Revisited, a BASIC report , he writes of the UK in general and Barrow in Furness in particular - also the place where Trident subs were built and apparently hoping for orders for their replacements... "The UK can make a difference through disarmament and through an arms conversion programme that addresses the a broader security framework on peacekeeping, climate change and sustainable development. Or it can continue on its present course as a major appendage to the US miilitary. A small town in Cumbria may well symbolise those future paths to peace or to war."
Tomorrow an interfaith group, including someone from American Friends Service Committee, will be on a delegation to talk to Iranian religious and political leaders to try to develop a more fruitful dialogue than the US government seems to want at the moment.
And in "Time to Talk", a report from 'Crisis Action', we read: "The UK has an important role to play in fostering a climate of pragmatism. It is recommended that the UK government continue to give full backing to the diplomatic process whilst directly addressing the need for full and direct negotiations between Iran and the US administration. The time available should be used to build confidence on both sides and the UK has a crucial role to play in supporting that process..."
Meanwhile, whilst we get to grips with the UNICEF report that's labelled the UK the worst for child-wellbeing, and struggle to understand the killing of teenagers in south London, we are reminded that paying attention to the detail of human relationships, valuing each human for the positive potential they have, is the basis of a peaceful society.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation in England has produced a poster with QPSW simply called 'Build Peace' with snapshots of - mostly - young people holding a white board on which they have written their own thoughts about building peace. FoR say "Far too often we feel helpless or even hopeless in the face of the amount of violence and injustice in the world. Yet there are millions of people all around the world who are working to build peace locally, nationally & internationally.
All of us need encouragement and ideas to help us build peace
How do you think we should build peace…?" and they invite contributions.
Photos from the poster and others can be viewed in a slide show on FoR's website at:
Here is just a tiny sample:
Build Peace - Share your toys
Build peace - forgiveness, not revenge
Build peace - Build community
Thursday, 1 February 2007
The Jewish school where half the pupils are Muslim
Wednesday, 31 January 2007
In The Guardian today. Simon Tisdall writes:
"US officials in Baghdad and Washington are expected to unveil a secret intelligence "dossier" this week detailing evidence of Iran's alleged complicity in attacks on American troops in Iraq. The move, uncomfortably echoing Downing Street's dossier debacle in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, is one more sign that the Bush administration is building a case for war."
and on the same Guardian website, Ian Traynor and Jonathan Steele report a growing rift between Europe and the US on the issue:
"... diplomats in Brussels and those dealing with the dispute in Vienna say a fissure has opened up between the US and western Europe on three crucial aspects - the military option; how and how quickly to hit Iran with economic sanctions already decreed by the UN security council; and how to deal with Russian opposition to action against Iran through the security council.
"There's anxiety everywhere you turn," said a diplomat familiar with the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. "The Europeans are very concerned the shit could hit the fan."
What to do?
Kathy Kelly, writing on Common Dreams ...:
Now another engagement looms. The Bush administration may try to wed U.S. people to yet another war, this time against Iran. If so, that would be joyful news for the controlling interests of large corporations that benefit from U.S. warfare and U.S. dominance over oil resources in this part of the world. We who claim the right to free speech, far beyond the imprisoning borders of Iraq, should join our strengths and wills to visit every congressional and senate office over the coming weeks, exercising nonviolent civil disobedience to cut funding for the wasteful, cruel, illegal and immoral U.S. addiction to war. (See www.vcnv.org to learn more about joining such a campaign.)
and Joe Volk, writing for the US Friends Committee on National Legislation:
"Peace is possible, if we work for it. Fortunately, we may have help. Some Members of Congress from both major political parties have begun to speak out against the Bush administration´s new march to war. At last count, FCNL has located four pieces of legislation introduced in the last few weeks that would require the president to obtain congressional approval before using force against Iran. (We hope but cannot assume that Congress would not vote for the use of force against Iran.) Passage of such a measure would be an important step toward preventing an expansion of the war. A second important step would be for the president to authorize direct diplomatic contacts between the U.S. and Iran and name a special envoy capable of the task.
As the bipartisan Iraq Study Group report noted, Iran could play an important role in the stabilization and rebuilding of Iraq.
...Intensive diplomacy and smart politics, not threats of war and war, are the tools to repair the damaged relations between Iran and the U.S. Peaceful prevention of a war with Iran could advance U.S. national interests and global security."
From the UK perspective, a CND briefing [pdf file] includes the following:
"CND calls for all of the nuclear weapons states to immediately undertake tangible steps towards eliminating their nuclear arsenals, as agreed by the signatories of the NPT. Such a confidence-building measure would demonstrate to Iran that the demands of the international community are not one-sided and that all countries are dedicated to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
The international community and the IAEA must act even-handedly. It is not enough to sound the alarm on so-called rogue states while existing nuclear states defy NPT requirements and are not taken to task.
Attack or threat of attack can only increase the likelihood of nuclear proliferation, as states that feel under threat may come to the conclusion that they have a ‘deterrent’ need for nuclear weapons."
Let's hope another way can yet be found, otherwise we may be writing and watching anxiously for some time to come.
Friday, 26 January 2007
Noted Iraqi scholar and peacemaker assassinated
The Church World Service has expressed its sadness at the apparently targeted killing of noted Iraqi peace and reconciliation advocate and trauma-healing specialist Dr. Alharith Abdulhameed Hassan.
Colleagues at humanitarian agency Church World Service called his death a 'tragic loss'.
Dr. Alharith, a 56-year-old Iraqi Muslim and professor of psychiatry at the University of Baghdad, was shot while travelling to work.
..... Alharith's widow wrote: "Please, my friends remember Alharith in your prayers as a man of love, who continuously called for "love, peace, forgiveness and the power of knowledge."
Thursday, 25 January 2007
... "Hundreds of thousands of Americans will march to their capital city Washington DC on Saturday 27 January. It could be the rebirth of the US peace movement. People round the world - let’s join the march with our own global internet protest! Last week, our ad told decision-makers in Congress how strong world opposition is to Bush’s escalation in Iraq."
This Saturday, Avaaz supporters at the US march will carry banners and country placards announcing how many of us from each nation are joining the marching. Every signature will be counted on the banners! Let’s raise a global voice for a real plan to end this war. Let’s make those numbers big. Time is short. Join the global peace march and tell your friends today!"
... consider yourselves told!
Also added a page advertising the conference we're putting on in March on Tackling Racism: Building Peace. This should be a very stimulating event - please register if you're planning to attend and pass the information onto others.
Wednesday, 24 January 2007
Changemakers is an initiative of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public that focuses on the rapidly growing world of social innovation. It provides solutions and resources needed to help everyone become a changemaker and presents compelling stories that explore the fundamental principles of successful social innovation around the world.
The competition is entitled : Entrepreneuring Peace On-the-ground innovations for managing conflict
A matrix of peace building has been set up as the entries (158 to date) have been coming in and voting for three prize winners will be possible online from 31 January to 14 February. The matrix itself makes interesting reading, with much food for thought about how peace can be built.