Archive for the ‘Peacemaking’ Category

Civil Disobedience and Civil Resistance   Leave a comment

Changing the Rules of Engagement:

By Bill McKibben  March 2017

Published in Sojourners Magazine: https://sojo.net/magazine/march-2017/changing-rules-engagement

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AS WE ENTER this new Trumpish world, I’ve been thinking a lot about civil disobedience. I had the honor of delivering the first lecture in honor of the late Jonathan Schell two nights after the election, and used the occasion to reflect on his masterwork Unconquerable World, with its confident belief that the era of violence was passing and that nonviolent action was the right way for the “active many” to beat the “ruthless few.”

This jibes with my own experience of the last few years. Helping to organize big protests like the ones that launched the Keystone pipeline fight, or watching in admiration as friends galvanized the country around Standing Rock, has convinced me that these techniques continue to represent our best tools for change.

On the one hand, disobedience may be harder in the Trump era—it may come at a higher price, as the zealot officials he’s appointed crack down.

But civil disobedience may also be more important than ever, especially the civil part. Because what we are battling now is not just corporate power and shabby oligarchy. It’s also a galloping incivility, the verbal violence and crudity that marked Trump’s campaign and his days of preparing for the presidency. It’s the “alt-right” ugliness of Breitbart’s white nationalism; it’s the constant barrage of nasty tweets. None of it looks like anything we’ve seen before from a president, and all of it, whether by design or not, hacks at the bonds that hold us together as a nation.

If we respond to that in kind—with the same sort of anger and snarl—then we play into the hands of the Steve Bannons of the world. They’re always going to be better at it, just as they’re always going to have more weapons.

The Mosquito Manifesto   Leave a comment

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Rose Marie Berger, a Catholic peace activist and poet, frequently asks intriguing questions, rather than providing easy answers. In her reflections on the state of Christianity in the U.S.A., she poses the question: “Are we American Christians or Christians in America?”

There is a difference between these two identities.

Which one is like the mosquito?

Her full column, published in the February 2017 edition of Sojourners magazine, is also available online at: https://sojo.net/magazine/february-2017/mosquito-manifesto

The questions are applicable to Christians worldwide.

 

 

Game Changer ?   Leave a comment

“Please tell the world there is no such thing as a just war. I say this as a daughter of war.”

That’s a quotation from Sister Nazik Matty, an Iraqi Dominican.

IMG_0940The “Just War Theory” is apparently undergoing a review within the Roman Catholic church. With approximately 1.2 billion members worldwide, what this church decides on war and peace can have an effect on many other people.

The December, 2016 edition of Sojourners magazine has an extensive analysis of the theology of war and peace. The story, written by Rose Marie Berger, can be accessed at:

https://sojo.net/magazine/december-2016/game-changer

 

Humans voted in the U.S.A.   Leave a comment

Over the past week there has been plenty of commentary on the election of Donald Trump to be President of the United States of America.  People are people. What might be a constructive way forward?

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“Human qualities often come in clusters. Altruism, inner peace, strength, freedom, and genuine happiness thrive together like the parts of a nourishing fruit. Likewise, selfishness, animosity, and fear grow together. So, while helping others may not always be “pleasant”, it leads the mind to a sense of inner peace, courage, and harmony with the interdependence of all things and beings.”

Matthieu Ricard in the book, “Sustainable Happiness”, page 58

 

 

Paul Rogers: We won’t defeat ISIS without a dramatic change in tactics   Leave a comment

On Sunday, September 18, 2016 the CBC’s Michael Enright broadcast an in-depth interview with Paul Rogers, who is the Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. Enright began with the following introduction:

We are now fifteen years into the global “War on Terror.” It has led to the ousting of regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and to the detainment or deaths of thousands of Islamist militants — along with a lot of their leaders.

It has also cost trillions of dollars and led to the deaths of at least 250,000 people — mostly civilians — many times more than the number of people who died on 9/11. That number doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands who were injured, and the millions who were displaced.

The War on Terror also played a part in the creation of ISIS, and in alienating and radicalizing people in the West and in the Muslim world.

What the War on Terror has not done is defeat terrorism. That might be because it has been prosecuted like a normal war, deploying tremendous military force to vanquish a foe.

Paul Rogers says the kind of war we’re engaged in against ISIS is an irregular war — one which cannot be won with sheer military might, technological superiority or strategic cunning.

And, he argues, irregular wars are the the kinds of wars we will find ourselves mired in through the decades ahead if we don’t change our approach to fighting — and preventing — them.

Paul Rogers is a Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University in the UK and the International Security Editor for the website www.opendemocracy.net , as well as a regular guest on The Sunday Edition. His most recent book is called Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins.

 

The interview is available on CBC’s podcast website: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/podcasts/arts-culture/the-best-of-the-sunday-edition/

Posted September 19, 2016 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Peacemaking

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The Human Right to Peace   Leave a comment

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“War is definitely profitable for the sprawling defence industries around the world. So is the fear-mongering in which politicians indulge when they capitalize on the uncertainties in the modern world.”

Douglas Roche, in “The Human Right to Peace”. 2003, page 25

Lighting Candles in Paris   Leave a comment

Sunday November 22, 2015

LIGHTING A CANDLE AGAINST FANATICS

By Jim Taylor

In all the video since the attacks in Paris, a week ago, the image that sticks most in my mind is the picture of Parisians lighting candles in the darkness.
A friend, talking about the tragedy, burst out, “I feel so helpless! What can we do?”
French president Francois Hollande knew what he would do. “We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless,” he vowed. That weekend alone, a dozen French jet fighters dropped 20 bombs on the city of Raqqa in Syria, considered the headquarters of the Islamic State. The French Defence Ministry said they destroyed a command centre, a recruitment centre, an ammunition storage site, and a training camp.
The western media never give death counts for such attacks. But an independent study calculated that since the Syrian civil war started four years ago, an average of 144 people are killed every day. Some would be militants; most would be civilians.
Put that in context. More people have been killed in the Middle East conflicts — every day for the last four years — than died in the coordinated Paris attacks that so outraged us.
This is surely the wrong way to go about establishing peace.

THE IMITATIONS OF POWER
As Charles Pierce wrote in Esquire, “A 242-ship navy will not stop one motivated murderous fanatic from emptying an AK-47 into a crowded restaurant. An F-35 fighter plane will not stop anyone from detonating bombs at a soccer match. A missile-defense shield in Poland will not stop a platoon of fanatics from opening fire in a jammed concert hall.”
Andrew Bacevich expressed similar misgivings in the Boston Globe: “In this conflict, the West generally enjoys clear-cut military superiority. Our arsenals are bigger, our weapons more sophisticated, our generals better educated in the art of war, our fighters better trained at waging it.
“Yet most of this has proven irrelevant. Time and again the actual employment of that ostensibly superior military might has produced results other than those intended or anticipated… Instead, intervention typically serves to aggravate, inciting further resistance. Rather than putting out the fires of radicalism, we end up feeding them.
“In proposing to pour yet more fuel on that fire, Hollande demonstrates a crippling absence of imagination…”

THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE
During a period of prayer, another friend quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”
Her words reminded me of going on a tour of a potash mine in Saskatchewan, years ago. Our group donned heavy coveralls and headlamps. We went more than a kilometre underground.
In a massive cavern, huge excavators scooped up rich phosphate deposits. Our guide flipped a power switch. The floodlights went out. We waited for our eyes to become accustomed to the darkness. They didn’t. They couldn’t. A kilometre underground, there was no light at all.
Then our guide flipped his cigarette lighter. And that single tiny flame illuminated even the farthest corners of the cavern. It drove the darkness back.
Just as the candles on Parisian sidewalk memorials pushed back the darkness people felt.
It’s not fashionable these days to use metaphors of light and darkness as symbols for good and evil. It’s too easy to broaden the metaphor into racism — if dark corresponds to evil, then black people must be evil, right?
But the people of Paris were not thinking about political correctness, or metaphors. Instinctively, they lit candles, to shine light into their caverns of despair, of grief, of anger.

REASSURING OURSELVES
Martin Luther King had a second part to his line about darkness: “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Vengeance cannot defeat vengeance; violence cannot counter violence.
The trouble is, of course, that we can’t see how tiny acts of kindness, generosity, or compassion are going to change the mindset of Charles Pierce’s “motivated murderous fanatics.”
In reality, I suggest, we don’t light candles to change the minds of fanatics. We do it to convince ourselves that even small acts matter. That it’s worth helping a wounded person, or welcoming a refugee, or creating a small oasis of peace in an angry world.
Somewhere, deep inside, we recognize that light itself is active, not passive. Even the lonely flame of a candle or cigarette lighter does something. By contrast, darkness is passive. You cannot turn on a dark that will extinguish the light.
We know that darkness takes over only if the light goes out. And so we gather on sidewalks, in churches, in homes, to comfort each other, to provide support, to renew our commitment to lives beyond violence.
To light our own candles. To help drive the darkness back.
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Copyright © 2015 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved.
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