Friday, 16 February 2007

Growing challenges, many opportunities

This last week or so has seen a range of reports that envisage a different way forward, but these are all fairly grand sweep kind of visions, beyond the capacity of the 'ordinary person' to do much about. They are important, nonetheless, and we should continue to promote these alternatives.

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

News from Birmingham

Whilst most of the nation's press is focussing on the arrest of 9 people in Birmingham in connection with some sort of terrorist plot, The Independent carries an interesting and hopeful piece about a school in the same city:
The Jewish school where half the pupils are Muslim