Friday, 23 November 2007

Buy nothing for peace

Tomorrow is Buy Nothing day, a global witness against consumerism. They say of themselves:

"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

Peace in a Pod(cast)

An interesting listen - Scilla Ellworthy interviewed for a British Council website. She founded the Oxford Research Group and more recently Peace Direct - the inspiration for her efforts being at least in part to get away from 'mushy peace'. I am not sure that I agree with her suggestion that pacifism equates with being passive - I certainly know of many dynamic people who call themselves pacifists ... but that's a minor niggle. Overall, a stimulating blend of vision, realism and experience-based wisdom.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Together for Peace

I've been impressed by the range and scale of events that Leeds Together for Peace have managed to put on over recent years, and this years looks just as good - though this year being more compact, between 15th-25th November rather than a whole month. They say about themselves:

"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:
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

Courageous and persistent witness by faithful Friends

I've just spent a weekend with a group of Quakers from Europe and the Middle East, all involved in one area of peace service work or another. This is an annual event, and I was as impressed and inspired as always by the range and spirit of the activities that participants were involved with. In particular, this year we heard about the Friends International Centre in Ramallah, from Kathy Bergen, its Program Coordinator. We were also reminded of the value of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), the UK part of which is administered by British Quakers. Find out more about Quakers in Europe and the Middle East here and about the Quaker office in Brussels here.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007



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