Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Mind shift?

One of the arguments used by anti-Trident replacement camaigners over the past several months has been that nuclear weapons are irrelevant in considering the real threats to security on this planet. I was interested today, therefore, to hear that none other than the UK goverment has initiated a debate at the UN on the security implications of climate change. Paul Rogers and others have been raising these concerns for many years, and todays debate coincides with the publication of a book (Beyond Terror: The Truth About the Real Threats to Our World- Oxford Research Group) written by him with Chris Abbott and John Sloboda - from their publicity material:
"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

Tackling racism, building peace

I've today added to the NFPB website some resources arising from our conference in Bolton on 10th March...
Hoping these are useful.

More about Janet

Back from a week away, I was pleased to see a number of web-based tributes to Janet Bloomfield.
Continuing to hold her family and friends in the light, particularly in the lead up to her funeral on Thursday this week.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Janet Bloomfield

I have been deeply saddened to hear at the beginning of the week of the unexpected death of Janet Bloomfield at the age of 53. I got to know Janet through our joint work on the QPSW Peace Campaigning and Networking group and in the work she did with us in running workshops on Dialogue with Decision Makers. I also greatly valued her contributions to peace events as a speaker and to peace and disarmament work as a writer, networker, visionary and friend to many. Her immediate family must be devastated. Heartfelt thoughts and prayers to them. Janet will be missed by so many. On the website of Atomic Mirror, for whom she worked, is the phrase: "creativity is the antidote to destruction". Thank you, Janet, for all the creative energy, the humanity, the commitment and the friendship you gave to this world.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Surging for peace

Came across an interesting website recently on Spirituality and Practice, one item on which Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat call for a Peace Surge, writing:
"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.

After the Trident vote...

Now the UK parliament have voted on Trident, where next? Those who were particularly involved in effort to engage the public and politicians and genuine debate on the issue will meet soon and no doubt developing strategies for further opposition to the decision to renew. CND, for instance, are encouraging people to write to their MPs to continue the conversation about the importance of pursuing multilateral disarmamant, amongst other things. And more than that, they say 'we will be working tirelessly to ensure that this dangerous, immoral decision is reversed at the earliest date.' Watch that space.

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.