This is the latest six-monthly report on progress in relation to ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ together with a sample of news about Charter signatories and organizations.
Our collective effort to build a worldwide consensus against the use of violence in all contexts continues to make progress, even against rather overwhelming odds!
Our last report on 20 April 2018 was kindly published by Antonio C.S. Rosa in the TRANSCEND Media Service Weekly Digest and by Pía Figueroa at the Pressenza International Press Agency. Many thanks to both of you!
At the time of today’s report, we have signatories in 105 countries with our first signatory, Peter C.S. Kim, in South Korea since the last report. We also have 114 organizations/networks from 36 countries. If you wish, you can see the list of organizational endorsements on the Charter website.
If you wish to see individual signatories, click on the ‘View signatures’ item in the sidebar. You can use the search facility if you want to look for a specific name.
The latest progress report article ‘Gandhi’s Despair and the Struggle for Truth and Love’ was recently distributed to many progressive news websites: it was published by a number of outlets in 14 countries, thanks to very supportive editors (several of whom are Charter signatories: special thanks to Antonio Rosa, Gifty Ayim-Korankye, Korsi Senyo and Pía Figueroa ). If you like, you can read the article in English here – ‘Gandhi’s Despair and the Struggle for Truth and Love’ – and, thanks to its translation into French by Charter signatory Edith Rubinstein in Belgium, here: ‘Le désespoir de Gandhi et la lutte pour la vérité et l’amour’.
If you feel inclined to do so, you are welcome to help raise awareness of the Nonviolence Charter using whatever means are easiest for you. Thanks to Rosie Jackson in Germany for emailing over 100 contacts!
And our usual invitation and reminder: You are most welcome to send us a report on your activities for inclusion in the next report. We would love to hear from you!
Anyway, here is another (inadequate) sample of reports of the activities of individuals and organizations who are your fellow Charter signatories.
Given that dysfunctional parenting is ultimately responsible for the behaviour of those individuals – including political, corporate, military and religious leaders – who generate and perpetuate violence, a number of Charter signatories are now making ‘My Promise to Children’ so that we start to produce a higher proportion of functional individuals who know how to powerfully resolve conflicts in their lives without resort to violence. Still other signatories are now prioritizing their own recovery from childhood violence by ‘Putting Feelings First’.
Some signatories are developing more sophisticated nonviolent strategies to deal with peace, environment and social justice issues more effectively, or so they can be more strategic in their liberation struggle. If you are interested in nonviolent strategy for your campaign or liberation struggle, these websites (which include photos of several Charter signatories) will be helpful:
If any of you have high quality photos of nonviolent actions that you are willing to have published on these sites, please send them to Robert <firstname.lastname@example.org> All photos will be acknowledged where published.
If you are also concerned about humanity’s rush to extinction – see ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’ – then you are invited to join those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ in response to our accelerating military, environmental and climate crises. Anita McKone’s ‘The Flame Tree Song’ can be heard here. (Her other ‘Songs of Nonviolence’ are on her website too.)
Since the last report in April, we finally made time to accede to various requests over the years to revise the Charter by adding to it certain issues that some signatories believed to be important. So, the revised (and updated) Charter is now posted here with the Spanish translation, again kindly done by Antonio Gutiérrez Rodero in Venezuela, here.
Hopefully, you will find nothing objectionable about the update but please advise us if you do.
So to the report…
Notably, remarkable activist and progressive journalist Abby Martin, formerly creator and presenter of the investigative news program ‘Breaking the Set’ on RT America and now creator and presenter of its successor program ‘The Empire Files’ on TeleSUR (based in Venezuela), was the first signatory after the revised Charter was posted last May. Abby, who is also an artist, files reports from ‘inside history’s biggest empire… recording a world shaped by war & inequality’. You can watch Abby’s terrific programs interviewing a wide range of people from ‘ordinary’ activists to progressive intellectuals to political leaders on her website The Empire Files. On 22 August 2018, Abby issued an appeal for support in response to the latest attack on her work. If you are able to support Abby’s ongoing efforts to report the truth, you will read how to do so at this link: ‘US Sanctions Shut Down “The Empire Files” with Abby Martin’. In appreciation of your exceptional and courageous truth-telling Abby.
Further to the report last time of their original three ‘lists of 100’, recognizing some of the many fine peace and justice leaders around the world, Charter signatory Professor Kathleen Malley-Morrison and her colleague Professor Anthony J. Marsella researched the efforts of many other fine activist leaders to compile a fourth list which has now been published. You can see the names of the people they decided to recognize, including many Charter signatories, in these four lists here:
4. ‘100 Living Peace and Justice Leaders and Models (List #4)’, 6 Aug 2018.
Once again, thank you for all your work compiling these lists and recognizing some fine activist leaders Kathie and Tony.
In addition to this work, however, Kathie maintains her own website ‘Engaging Peace’ on which her own thoughtful articles appear, as well as her commentary and/or questions designed to encourage reflection, on articles by guest authors published on her site.
Kathie, who is more formally Dr. Kathleen Malley-Morrison, is a professor of psychology at Boston University, ‘specializing in peace studies and in life-span human development. Her general interest is in cross-cultural and international perspectives on violence. She has conducted extensive research on violence and abuse in families and other intimate relationships. Her current research projects focus on the views held by ordinary people around the world on subjects of war and peace. Specific topics surveyed include the potential right of governments to conduct acts of aggression (e.g., invasion, torture) and the rights of individuals to live in a world of peace and to protest against war. She is editor of a four-volume series on State Violence and the Right to Peace: An international Survey of the Views of Ordinary People, published by ABC-CLIO in October 2009, and is currently preparing another edited book for Springer Publishing, to focus on war, torture, terrorism, and national security.’
In Afghanistan, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, mentored by Dr Teck Young Wee (Dr Hakim) continue their inspirational work in extraordinarily difficult circumstances to bring sustainable peace to Afghanistan and the world. Two of Hakim’s recent articles will give you a clear sense of their exceptional work and vision: ‘In Afghanistan, our need to rethink the institution of war’ and ‘Loving Rashid so he won’t become a “terrorist”‘.
On the International Day of Peace (21 September), the Afghan Peace Volunteers organized a youth conference ‘Love in Action Brings Down Borders and Restores the Environment’ in Kabul. As part of their vision to build #GEN – a Green, Equal and Nonviolent world – representatives from all of Afghanistan’s provinces were invited with the intention to create an atmosphere of friendship and trust. ‘Holding this conference requires great courage in this time of almost daily bombings and attacks. The APVs show real leadership in nonviolence, including environmental restoration, and improving food security, despite the increasing violence.’ For a report on this conference, see ‘Afghan youth change their minds about peace’.
While being hosted by the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul, Kathy Kelly wrote two delightful accounts of the Pashto men in Afghanistan who walked 400 miles from Helmand to Kabul while calling on warring parties in Afghanistan to end the war. Didn’t catch this in the corporate media? Surprising! So how did the Afghan peace walkers go? Find out in Kathy’s articles ‘Digging Deeper’ and ‘A Mile in Their Shoes’.
As always, of course, Kathy continues her nonviolent activism to end war, resulting in her arrest and imprisonment fairly routinely. Fortunately, she evocatively documents her efforts on behalf of those on the receiving end of western military violence, however and wherever it manifests. For articles and actions focusing on Yemen in which Kathy and Voices for Creative Nonviolence were involved, you will find these items sobering: ‘U.S. Is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen’ and ’34 Backpacks – an ongoing commemoration of Yemeni children killed on August 9′.
Kathy was also among those arrested, along with fellow Charter signatories – Joy First, Malachy Kilbride and Phil Runkel – at a nonviolent action, organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, to draw attention to the plight of the people of Yemen under bombardment by US weapons supplied to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners. You can read a little about their action and Kathy’s court statement here: ‘A Courtroom Appeal for Yemen’.
Another of those arrested, Phil Runkel, works at Marquette University where he has served since 1977 as archivist for the papers of sainthood candidate Dorothy Day. There is an account of an earlier action taken in 2016 by Phil, written by Joy, here: ‘Phil Runkel, Dorothy Day Archivist and Activist, Found Guilty of Trespassing in Wisconsin’.
Professor Chandra Muzaffar is President of JUST International – the International Movement for a JUST World – based in Malaysia. Chandra routinely writes insightful commentary on Malaysian and world affairs. A recent notable article, titled ‘Syria: A False Flag Operation Thwarted?’, described revelations by the Syrian and Russian governments that ‘may have thwarted a British-backed plan to stage a “false flag” chemical weapons attack in Idlib province that would have forced the US to launch a missile and air assault on Syria’. Given that previous false flag events in Syria have been used to justify military attacks on the country, exposure of this plan prevented another such assault.
Damien Cook is a restoration ecologist who has a deep love for the wetlands in the Murray-Darling River Basin in south-eastern Australia. He is a founding member of the Wetland Revival Trust, a not-for-profit that aims to restore the health and ecological function of degraded wetlands. In Damien’s words:
‘Aboriginal culture is embedded in a deep spiritual connection to the land and waters that the people are from. The knowledge and deep connection to the land of Traditional Owners are pivotal to the process of ecological restoration and Wetland Revival works closely with indigenous communities to ensure they are central to decision-making and have access to employment and training opportunities. The underlying values of Wetland Revival are equality, care for mother earth, transparency and passion for restoring the environment.’
Wetland Revival doesn’t have a website yet but you can read more about it on the website it will replace.
Moreover, recognizing that one of the greatest threats to the survival of life on earth is climate change, and that there will be no point restoring ecosystems if the planet’s climate becomes unliveable, Damien is also a climate activist with Central Victorian Climate Action.
Ina Curic in Romania writes illustrated children’s books that teach children a variety of lessons for living an empowered, socially and environmentally conscious life. Her book ‘Queen Rain, King Wind: The Practice of Heart Gardening’ was published in May and ‘Anagrania’s Challenge: Turning Conflict into Opportunity’ has just been published. Here is a review of the latter book: ‘”Anagrania’s Challenge” is a beautifully created story that offers clear and simple guidance on three subjects vital to our shared future on Earth: what we need to be ourselves, what we need to be healthy, and that acceptance of uniqueness and creatively dealing with conflict are essential if we are to live together and celebrate the benefits and advantages of our differences. Let us hope that Ina’s and Varga’s book inspires adults to learn what we might, in a better world, teach our children by example. In the meantime, perhaps their book will teach children so that they can teach us!’ If you are looking for children’s books that promote nonviolent living and conflict resolution, you will have trouble finding better books than these two by Ina. You can read about Ina, as well as how to obtain her books, on her website ‘Imagine Creatively’. Wonderful work Ina!
For four to eight weeks from 9 July 2018, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action organized for 39 buses in downtown Seattle to display one of GZ’s anti-nuclear advertisements reminding locals of their proximity to the huge nuclear arsenal – 8 of the US Navy’s 14 Trident nuclear-powered submarines – at nearby Puget Sound. You can read Leonard Eiger’s account of this and see photos on GZ’s website: ‘Metro Bus Ad to inform citizens of Puget Sound about Nuclear Weapons stockpiled in their Back Yard’.
Angie Zelter in the UK, whose unrelenting efforts to draw attention to the threat posed by nuclear weapons and to have these weapons outlawed are well-documented and appropriately recognized (including with over 100 arrests in seven countries – Belgium, Canada, England, Malaysia, Norway, Poland and Scotland – serving 16 prison sentences, not to mention the Right Livelihood Award in 2001)! Joining the International Fast from 6-9 August to commemorate the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Angie decided that this year she would not go to London (where other members of her group Trident Ploughshares gathered), Paris or elsewhere but would fast in her home town of Knighton in the Welsh borders and invite local people to take part. ‘I asked the local vicar if she would let me fast day and night in her church even though I was not a church goer and she said “Of course, the church is for everyone!” What a wonderful response.’ You can read Angie’s compelling account of her fast published in ‘Report of the Trident Ploughshares Hiroshima to Nagasaki Fast in Knighton’.
Earlier, on 20 June 2018, a nonviolent action involving Angie and fellow activists was conducted at Westminster in London, calling for the UK to Sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and disarm Trident. Involving activists from Trident Ploughshares from all over the UK, Angie reports ‘Since the end of the Cold War the world has largely forgotten about nuclear weapons. But an exchange of just one hundred of the thousands of nuclear weapons deployed around the world right now would cause a nuclear famine and the deaths of two billion people. The situation is urgent. As long as the UK and other countries continue to rely on nuclear weapons to project power countries like North Korea will want to have them too, increasing the risk that someday they will be used again. Instead of working towards nuclear disarmament as they promised the UK and other nuclear weapons states are building a new generation of nuclear weapons and putting us all at risk of nuclear war. Tensions between the West and Russia or in the Middle East could lead to conflict. Let’s choose real security. Sign the Ban Treaty.’ You can read Angie’s account of the nonviolent action here: ‘Protesters Chained to Houses of Parliament Railings Call for UK to Sign Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty’. We deeply appreciate your unrelenting efforts Angie!
Buddy Bell has probably done more walking for peace than anyone else in the world this year. So far, he has walked in three countries on two continents: South Korea, Japan and the United States! If you would like to read accounts of his walks, you can do so in these articles: ‘A March on Jeju Island’, ‘A Walk for Okinawa’ and ‘Savannah to Kings Bay Peace Walk September 4 – 14 2018’. Do you need new shoes yet Buddy?
Zakia Haddouch in Morocco continues to report the extraordinarily difficult circumstances of people in that country as she and other activists continue their various struggles to bring some semblance of justice to Moroccan affairs. One prominent issue is the ongoing debate in relation to ‘the forced military service (for both young female and male subjects and I don’t say citizens). It was lately decreed by the king. So, some say it’s good because the military service will “educate” young people. Some think it’s just the regime’s manoeuvre to enroll young contestants and activists, especially from regions like Rif.’ In Zakia’s view, the whole thing is wrong ‘starting from the way it was enacted (without going through the Parliament) and the timing (during the holidays) and finally the intention (despotic and war-oriented)…’.
Another struggle is taking place in the wake of the death of Mohcine Fikri on 28 October 2016, who was crushed to death in a rubbish truck trying to recover merchandise confiscated by a policeman. Following this event, Hirak (literally ‘The Movement’) was born and it quickly mobilized widespread support for its vigorous protests. While most of Hirak’s concerns are about local issues, it draws upon a national repertory of nonviolent actions fueled by the experiences of activists around the country. Between October 2016 and May 2017, and faced with social unrest of an unprecedented vitality which increasingly challenged him personally, Mohamed VI remained silent. However, when Hirak leader Nasser Zefzazi – who has never failed to stress nonviolence and advocate self-restraint – interrupted a sermon on 26 May 2017 in which an imam claimed the social movement was tantamount to a ‘fratricidal struggle or even civil war within Islam’, the government took this pretext to clamp down on Hirak. Many activists were jailed – over 200 so far – and demonstrations are now systematically broken up. Zefzazi was among those arrested (on 29 May 2017) and, along with other members of Hirak, subsequently jailed for 20 years. The repression has nipped in the bud any hopes for resolving the crisis. For good accounts of the above, Zakia suggests these two articles: ‘Rif Crisis Reveals Failure of Development in Morocco’ and ‘Moroccan Protest Leader Is Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison’.
In relation to her own ongoing case, outlined in the previous report (see link above), Zakia notes that she hasn’t received notification of the appeal verdict against her so she cannot go to the supreme court yet. She is still waiting ‘with high spirit because I believe in my just cause and I’m determined to go to the end’. In sincere appreciation Zakia!
Ella Polyakova and her colleagues at the Soldiers’ Mothers of Saint-Petersburg in Russia continue their fine work to defend the rights of servicemen and conscripts by making sure that individuals are equipped with knowledge of their rights, the law and all relevant circumstances to be able to take responsibility for defending themselves from abuse.
Pakistani Canadian scholar Mahboob A. Khawaja continues to write his searing critiques of international relations exposing the deep conflicts driving global events. Two of his recent articles are ‘World Affairs and Insanity as Entertainment: Are We at the End of Human Morality?’ and ‘Mankind Must Know: The UNO and Global Leaders are a Menace to Peace and Problem-Solving’.
In support of his son Momin, a computer science graduate and IT entrepreneur, who has been unjustly imprisoned since 2004 on terrorism charges (and facing a sentence of life and 24 years), Mahboob has created a website to raise awareness of Momin’s struggle for justice and freedom, and organized a petition, which you are invited to consider signing too.
A recent signatory is Peter Phillips, professor of political sociology at Sonoma State University in the USA, who wrote the recently published book ‘Giants: The Global Power Elite’. The book identifies the world’s top seventeen asset management firms, such as BlackRock and J.P Morgan Chase, each with more than one trillion dollars of investment capital under management, as the ‘Giants’ of world capitalism. The seventeen firms collectively manage more than $US41.1 trillion in a self-invested network of interlocking capital that spans the globe. You can read a review of this superb book by fellow signatory Robert Hunziker in ‘The Elite World Order in Jitters’. Great book Peter!
Apart from this review, prominent environmental journalist Robert Hunziker continues to expose many aspects of the environmental crisis humans have generated on planet Earth. In two more recent fine articles, he reminded us of what we are doing to Planet Earth: ‘The Burning Hot Planet’ and ‘Drought-Laden Rainforests’.
And just to show that activism is sometimes a family affair and perhaps even a multi-generational family affair, how about this action? Martha Hennessy, whose grandmother was Dorothy Day, wrote an evocative ‘Earth Day Reflection from a Georgia Jail’ where she was imprisoned with fellow nonviolent activist and Charter signatory Elizabeth McAlister (whose husband was the late Phil Berrigan). Martha and Liz, together with five other activists, had taken part in the Kings Bay Plowshares action for the reasons outlined in the article ‘Trident: Illegal and Immoral: “The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide”‘. In deep appreciation of your inspirational commitment Martha and Liz.
Dr. Lim Teck Ghee in Malaysia has had two books published since the last report. The first, titled ‘Challenging Malaysia’s Status Quo’, drew this accolade from a prominent scholar: ‘History professor, consumer advocate, policy analyst and public intellectual par excellence Dr Lim Teck Ghee has put together this important collection of critical essays on the existential crisis of the Malaysian nation today. Through these essays, Dr Lim systematically exposes the poor state of governance in the Malaysian state and the flaws of its past and current policies.’ You can read more reviews and buy Teck Ghee’s ‘Challenging Malaysia’s Status Quo’ here. You can read a fuller review here: ‘Book Review: Teck Ghee’s Challenging Malaysia’s Status Quo’.
The second book ‘Anatomy of an Electoral Tsunami’ is a jointly-authored commentary on the 9 May election which ‘swept away’ Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, ending 60 years of rule by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO).
Teck Ghee also wrote two articles prior to the election that considered interesting issues in the Malaysian context. The first one – ‘Has the election already been stolen?’ – discussed the role of money, media, party machinery and electoral gerrymandering in the conduct of elections. The second article discussed the possibility that mobile phones harnessed by a motivated citizenry could help bring down authoritarian regimes and spread the message of peace and nonviolence. See ‘How the internet can help Harapan produce an upset win in GE14’.
Edith Rubinstein in Belgium is one of our more senior activists. Edith originally wrote to advise that she had sent an article Robert wrote (‘500 years is long enough! Human Depravity in the Congo’) ‘to two persons of my family who lived in Belgian Congo and did not appreciate [the article]…. I proposed to them to write to you. It could be a good experience!’
So we asked Edith to tell us a little about herself:
‘I am a very old woman (86) and I am now in a Center of recuperation. Fortunately, I have still my computer and continue my work as activist. Because I am an activist since a very long time, a feminist, a woman in Black, and I translated free Ecofeminism from Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva…. Since many years, I have translated alternative articles and finally it made me sick: I had a severe depression and a crisis of unconsciousness and was brought in a hospital, around the middle of April 2018.
‘In fact, I am completely “abnormal”. Somebody who feels bad to live in a world where hundreds of thousand people are killed or die by hundreds of thousand because they have nothing to eat anymore and that nobody seems to care, in a complete indifference. I feel very bad to live in this kind of world. Yes, terrible what is happening in the Congo! But unfortunately it is not the only case. And I am very scandalized by the behavior of the Western World !!!!’
If only [many] more people were as ‘abnormal’ as you Edith, this world would be a much better place. As inadequate as this is: Many thanks, on behalf of all your fellow signatories (and activists generally), for your lifetime of struggle to make our world what it could be. You are inspirational!
David Polden continues to publish his fine ‘Non-Violent Resistance Newsletter’ every couple of months, with news on nonviolent resistance both in the UK but also around the world, particularly Europe and Palestine. Unfortunately, despite our entreaties, David’s Newsletter is not online but you are welcome to contact him at <email@example.com> if you wish to be added to his email list. Well worth it, in our view.
Ram Puniyani, retired professor in biomedical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, took voluntary retirement in December 2004 to work full time for communal harmony in India. He has been involved with human rights activities for the past two decades and is associated with various secular and democratic initiatives. One recent article reflects his commitment to supporting communal harmony: ‘Need to Combat Emerging Global Sectarianism’. And in this article, he asks ‘Which party cares for Dalits Today?’ as he identifies some of the political intrigue being played out as backdrop to the ongoing atrocities being inflicted on Dalits as they continue their struggle for identity and security in modern India.
For yet another visionary initiative, David Steinman is the Project Director of World Liberation Radio which has begun a crowd funding campaign for a demonstration project ‘proving nonviolence can be taught to oppressed populations around the world by radio’. You can find out more about David’s fine initiative on the website above and please consider supporting his crowdfunding campaign too. Great idea David!
Many of you no doubt followed the progress of the recent international Freedom Flotilla Coalition boats attempting to sail into Gaza in Israeli-occupied Palestine. Whether or not you did, however, Elizabeth Murray was on the refurbished Norwegian fishing vessel and international solidarity boat ‘Al-Awda’ so you will find out a little about the flotilla and what it was intent on doing from her account of ‘The Next Boat to Gaza’. Good on you Elizabeth for so courageously supporting our Palestinian friends.
Apart from his regular column, often focused on the grotesque maldistribution of wealth, for publication on progressive news sites, Paul Buchheit also recently had his latest book published: The Best of All Netherworlds. Unlike his previous book Disposable Americans: Extreme Capitalism and the Case for a Guaranteed Income, Netherworlds is a techno-fantasy novella that ‘follows two men whose sense of adventure takes them “down the rabbit hole” of curiosity into a terrifying mythical country overrun by technology. This disturbing and highly-unsettling kingdom is one in which people have foolishly and dangerously rushed headlong into allowing artificial intelligence (AI) to run rampant with devastating consequences for humanity. Their lack of forethought and adequate research has resulted in a world where humans have been replaced by machines. Technological irresponsibility has produced unrecognizable cognition, twisted logic, and inequity on steroids. This cautionary tale acts as a looking glass for our real world, providing valuable insights as well as a speedbump meant to rein in its impetuous haste. It is a clarion call for thoughtful, measured, and careful action, given its very real implications in current society.’
Apart from his book, recent articles of Paul’s again exposed the injustice in the global economy. See, for example: ‘What Just Happened? $30 Trillion to the Richest White Americans Since 2008’ and ‘The Capitalist Manifesto: Let Poor People Die’.
The Honourable Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, was born in Phoenix, Durban in 1940. Ela was an activist during the apartheid era, although she was banned in 1975 and subjected to nine years of house arrest. After graduating from University, she worked as a social worker and was a Member of the South African Parliament from 1994 to 2004. She assisted the South Africa transition to a post-Apartheid state by sitting on the Transitional Executive Committee in the South African government. Her political affiliations have included the Natal Indian Congress, which she served as vice president, the United Democratic Front and the Inanda Support Committee. She has been Chancellor of the Durban University of Technology. She is a co-President of the World Council of Religions for Peace. Among many other achievements, Ela developed a 24-hour program against domestic violence and chairs the Mahatma Gandhi Salt March Committee and the Mahatma Gandhi Development Trust. Ela’s contributions to politics and society have been widely recognized, including by the Government of India. You can see a photo of Ela and read more about her superb efforts on the Ethekwini Living Legends website.
The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space held their annual conference at Oxford in the UK in June 2018. You can see some photos of fellow activists you might know and read Bruce Gagnon’s brief ‘Report on GN confab in Oxford, England – next 2019 meeting in Russia’ here.
In August the Global Network also produced a short video ‘Just Say NO To Space Force’.
Bruce also had knee replacement surgery in mid-July and we are pleased to report that it has not slowed Bruce down one bit! Hope it continues to go well for you, knee-wise, Bruce. Unfortunately, his request that we make ‘world peace and equality… all happen before I return!’ from hospital hasn’t quite eventuated yet. But we are working on it Bruce! And glad to have you back helping us. We obviously need you.
For those who don’t know Ray McGovern, he was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990, and in the 1980s chaired National Intelligence Estimates and prepared the US President’s Daily Brief. He received the Intelligence Commendation Medal on retirement but returned it in 2006 to protest the CIA’s involvement in torture. Ray’s work now involves commenting on intelligence issues; in 2003 he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). Hence, his particular expertise to comment on the following issues:
Central to efforts to expose the delusion that Russia hacked the 2016 US Presidential election, Ray exposes the lie and talks about what most likely happened in this video: ‘Did DID (CIA’s Digital Innovation Directorate) Do the “Russian Hacking”? Circumstantial evidence points in that direction, as Ray explains in this 16-minute video’.
And while this is an older article of Ray’s, it is well worth reading if you want insight into the true power of the CIA in US politics: ‘Truman’s True Warning on the CIA’. We sincerely appreciate your persistence on the ‘Russia hacking’ delusion Ray, but also the enormous value of your insights into US foreign policy and domestic politics generally.
Writing on a diverse range of issues, Dr Gary Kohls tackles violence on subjects not widely discussed in the literature. One classic example of this is his reporting on the subject ‘A Short History of the Costs of Military Air Shows’ but his persistence in exposing the violence of vaccinations is another: ‘A Serious Warning about the Toxicity of Aluminum-Adjuvanted Vaccines–Especially for Infants and the Elderly’. Onya Gary!
Pía Figueroa in Chile is Co-Director of ‘Pressenza International Press Agency’, which ‘feeds media every day for free with news, opinions, interviews and contributions regarding peace, nonviolence, disarmament, human rights, nondiscrimination and humanism in eight different languages, thanks to the volunteer work of more than 100 people based in 25 different countries.’ Her latest report in both Spanish and English is as follows:
‘Pressenza sigue avanzando en su propósito de contribuir, con un periodismo con enfoque de paz y noviolencia, a un mundo en el que todo ser humano tenga cabida y sus derechos sean plenamente respetados, en un marco de sociedades desarmadas y desmilitarizadas, capaces de restablecer el equilibrio ecológico mediante gobiernos de democracia real y participativa.
‘Estuvimos presentes en el Foro Humanista Europeo que se realizara en Madrid en mayo recién pasado y que tuvo como objetivo ir evidenciando “Lo que nos une, hacia una Nación Humana Universal”. De hecho, me tocó participar en el panel de Medios de Comunicación y Movimientos Sociales.
‘En noviembre próximo Pressenza cumple 10 años, hito que celebraremos descentralizadamente en más de 40 lugares del mundo, especialmente en el Asia donde estamos buscando organizar nuevas redacciones. Personalmente estaré visitando por primera vez China para participar en octubre en el Foro de Medios organizado por CCTV+ en la ciudad de Chongqing.
‘Son muy bienvenidas las organizaciones sociales que quieran que publiquemos sus Comunicados de Prensa y los columnistas que aporten con su mirada noviolenta. Comunicarse con Pía Figueroa al mail: firstname.lastname@example.org‘
‘Pressenza continues to advance in its intention to contribute, with a journalism focused on peace and nonviolence, to a world in which all human beings have a place and their rights are fully respected, in a framework of disarmed and demilitarized societies, capable of re-establishing the ecological balance through governments of real and participative democracy.
‘We were present at the European Humanist Forum that took place in Madrid last May and whose objective was to show “What unites us, towards a Universal Human Nation”. In fact, I participated in the Media and Social Movements panel.
‘Next November Pressenza celebrates 10 years, a milestone that we will celebrate decentrally in more than 40 places in the world, especially in Asia where we are trying to organize new editorial offices. Personally, I will be visiting China for the first time in order to participate in October in the Media Forum organized by CCTV+ in the city of Chongqing.
‘Social organizations that want us to publish their Press Releases and columnists that contribute with their nonviolent analysis are very much welcome.’ Contact Pía Figueroa <email@example.com> Thanks a lot Pía for your unfailing support.
Daniel Dalai reports modestly about his visionary initiative Earthgardens in Guatemala. Earthgardens provides opportunities for girls to realize and practice their inherent leadership potential, particularly as part of Eco Teams in preserving natural biodiversity. ‘More and more 3rd world governments are proving to be a colossal waste of money as corrupt politicians get rich without addressing local needs. The Sembradores’ model of Girl Power is gaining acceptance as people realize girls are more efficient, more concerned, and less corruptible in solving the simple problems of local needs. Clean water, cheap electricity, food production, and tourist development are urgent needs in many parts of the globe. You may become a volunteer working with children or an Eco-Team assessor in Latin America or Africa.’ Please contact Kate Teggins <firstname.lastname@example.org> The beautiful Earthgardens website has just been updated and the stunning photos alone will tell you much about what these remarkable girls are doing. See Earthgardens.
Pat Elder and the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy continue to draw attention to the incredibly destructive link between the US military and the military training programs conducted in US schools. For example, in the article ‘Campaign: Shut Down High School Marksmanship Programs!’ the Coalition highlights the following: ‘Militarism is a contributing cause of gun violence in America. Nearly 2,000 high schools offer marksmanship programs to students enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Corps (JROTC) program. These shooting programs don’t belong in our schools! JROTC courses, which often substitute for core curriculum subjects, are taught by retired soldiers from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines who often do not have college credentials.’ Why does the Coalition believe these programs are so inappropriate? Here is one reason: ‘The Army taught Florida gunman Nikolas Cruz how to shoot a lethal weapon in his high school cafeteria when he was 14. Nik was a member of the school’s JROTC program.’ You can read more about this vital issue, including the lead poisoning of students who are involved in ‘marksmanship training’ and buy Pat’s book Military Recruiting in the United States on their website. Pat’s book ‘Military Recruiting in the United States provides a fearless and penetrating description of the deceptive practices of the U.S. military as it recruits American youth into the armed forces.’ Pat is a long-time antiwar and environmental activist and his book ‘exposes the underworld of American military recruiting’. Pat is also running for Congress in the forthcoming US mid-term elections. In appreciation, Pat, of your ongoing defense of US children.
West Papuan solidarity activist Dr Jason MacLeod continues his work in support of the nonviolent struggle to liberate West Papua from Indonesian occupation. Jason’s 2015 book Merdeka and the Morning Star: civil resistance in West Papua carefully describes the evolution of the West Papuan resistance to three successive occupying countries over more than a century.
Jason continues to work with Pasifika, a small organisation involved in strengthening the capacity of nonviolent resistance movements through the provision of training and education, action research and small-scale support of local nonviolent initiatives. Here is his report:
‘In the last 6 months Pasifika has been working inside West Papua, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. In May we brought the West Papuans together with ni-Vanuatu, Kanaky and Aboriginal Australian musicians to record the testimony and produce several songs with legendary musician David Bridie. While together we translated the collective testimony into the Indonesian, French, Bislama and Byak languages. The CD and book, with a foreword written by Cardinal John Ribat, will be used to support the #MakeWestPapuaSafe campaign. The goal of this campaign will be to disrupt and ultimately stop foreign government support for the Indonesian police in West Papua, the major perpetrators of human rights violations and a key institutional pillar in the Indonesian government’s occupation of West Papua. As part of this campaign we will also call for the arrest of Wiranto, the current Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security. Wiranto commanded the Indonesian Armed Forces at the time of the Byak Massacre and is allegedly responsible for the murder of West Papuan leader, Theys Eluay. The Byak Testimony book and CD, along with the website and a short film are some of the nonviolent tactics under development.
‘In February, April and August Pasifika collaborated with staff from Bismark Ramu Group, a Papua New Guinean organisation based in Madang. First, we trained BRG staff in civil resistance then together we trained Papua New Guinean community leaders in strategy and nonviolent action skills. The community leaders came from across the country and are all concerned about illegal land grabbing and resource extraction on indigenous lands. The participants represented communities resisting experimental seabed mining in the Duke of York Islands, the massive proposed Chinese Frieda River Mine in the Sepik River, cement and limestone mining along the remote Rai Coast, and road building, logging and proposed plantations in the highlands. Pasifika brought knowledge of civil resistance and strategy while BRG has the relationships with local communities and will provide ongoing support.
‘There are also two ongoing pieces of work: the development of the #MakeWestPapuaSafe website and writing up the civil resistance curriculum we have been developing so that it can be used by other leaders, organisers, educators and communities. The Civil Resistance guide will be published as the third instalment of the popular People Power Manual.
‘We have also been accompanying Swandibru Arts Group who are pursuing a vision to reconnect both halves of the island of New Guinea. Swandibru has built a 100 foot long traditional canoe, a Wairon, a canoe that hasn’t been seen in over 60 years. At the time of writing they have just left Byak Island in occupied West Papua. They intend to sail the canoe to Samarai in neighbouring independent Papua New Guinea. Along the way the crew will be participating in ceremony designed to reconnect people on both halves of the island, long separated by colonialism. The Wairon is part of a larger cultural resistance movement – the Sorong to Samarai movement – whose aim is to animate solidarity for West Papua in Papua New Guinea.
‘Aside from ongoing work accompanying the movement in West Papua, Jason has also been training campaigners from East and South-East Asia in strategy. The campaigners are all involved in campaigns to halt the expansion of coal-fired power plants and coal mines.
‘It has been a very busy time but one that has also been fruitful and energising.’ Busy Jason? It sounds like you dream about nonviolence. That’s assuming you get time to sleep!
Our friends at CND Cymru continue their campaign with like-minded souls both in Wales and around the world ‘for peace, environmental and social justice and to rid Britain and the world of all weapons of mass destruction’. In the latest edition of their magazine ‘Heddwch’, which is full of news of their activities, Jill Gough’s article ‘Army crashes fifth drone’ reports that yet another military drone recently crashed in a civilian area where, apparently, the primary military threat to the UK that afternoon was the local school sports. I guess we should be glad it was only a drone, which in this case didn’t kill anyone or cause significant damage, rather than a nuclear weapon!
In his usual understated style, René Wadlow, president of the Association of World Citizens based in France but worldwide, reminds us of the importance of ‘world citizen diplomacy’ in presenting ideas for the peaceful settlement of military conflicts. While world citizen diplomacy is still a new field, René encourages ‘a process of presenting ideas, of drawing upon different fields of thought, and of distilling experiences’. World Citizen Diplomats, he argues, ‘must learn from government policy-making procedures but must use them creatively, with more sympathy for the people of the country being analyzed and with a broader vision of the healing of the Planet rather than the national interest focus of government policy makers. Many of the World Citizen proposals are based on developing appropriate forms of government through the creation of con-federal forms of government and trans-frontier cooperation. The aim is to reduce violence and to create bridges between cultures.’ Here is René’s fine article: ‘The Uneven Road to Negotiations in Good Faith to Resolve Armed Conflicts’.
‘Interfaith peacebuilding seeks greater understanding of ways to achieve effective, just and sustainable peace and harmony while rebuilding resilient societies after a period of conflict.’ It has been an important tool of reconciliation in post-conflict Nepal, particularly at grassroots level. Professor Bishnu Pathak continues his efforts to analyse its effectiveness with a view to strengthening the impact of such initiatives in order to transform ongoing conflicts. You can read more about this effort in his article ‘Process Documentation of Interfaith Peacebuilding Cycle: A Case Study from Nepal’.
Korsi Senyo is the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Peace Building in Ghana and a prominent peace and civil rights advocate in Africa. At the invitation of H.E Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania, Korsi was in Tanzania to speak at the 2018 Africa Leadership Forum on ‘Africa in the Global Peace and Security Architecture – Overcoming gridlocks to peace’. The African Leadership Forum (ALF) is Africa’s dedicated space for open and frank discussion about the challenges facing the continent, by the continent. It is organized by the Office of the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Benjamin W. Mkapa in conjunction with the Institute of African Leadership for Sustainable Development (UONGOZI Institute). The 2018 Forum, which focused on the peace and security situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, was a follow-up discussion to the forum convened in August 2017 in South Africa, which was co-hosted by H.E Benjamin Mkapa and Thabo Mbeki. At the May gathering, Korsi presented a strong case on how regional blocs across Africa must support research initiatives that will help to better understand the major causes of conflict on the continent and devise practical solutions to these challenges. You can read more about Korsi and his fine team on the AFCOPB website.
Dr John Tierney in the USA offers a range of resources designed to teach children ‘how to act peacefully’ while inspiring and enabling teachers to teach peacemaking skills but also encourage all of us ‘to see and celebrate the role that young peacemakers can have in changing their own lives, their schools, communities, and the world at large. Founded in 1992 in response to the youth violence epidemic, Peace First is able to create lasting change in schools because they integrate everything they do into the core academic mission of schools by providing educators with critical skills and knowledge to integrate social-emotional learning into the school’s curriculum and culture—beginning with the classroom and extending into the whole school. You can read more about John’s approach and access the resources he makes available on his website The Peaceful Educator.
Sami Awad, who is Director of the Holy Land Trust in Palestine, has coauthored an article titled ‘Gaza As the Palestinian State Is Not an Acceptable Two-State Solution’. Noting that ‘The two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not dead’, Sami and his coauthor go on to explain that ‘On the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, Israel is implementing an unjust “two-state” solution by making Gaza the Palestinian rump state on 1.76% of historical Palestine. Israel is moving toward permanent annexation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They de-facto control much of the fractured territory already…. This “two-state” solution will give Jews a 60-40% demographic majority in “Israel” and at least for a few generations ensure Jewish electoral domination particularly with a sustained ethnic cleansing program.’
Aside from this, however, Sami and other friends at the Holy Land Trust continue their exceptional work to create a just and peaceful Middle East. For example, their Peace Research & Learning Center ‘fosters analysis of fundamental issues and structural problems in Palestine and Israel. Researchers utilize various methodologies in the field of social sciences to focus on themes of nonviolence, non-linear thinking, trauma healing, and to propose solutions to such issues. The Center attract researchers in multidisciplinary fields, and promote trans-disciplinary international joint research in Palestine. Research results derived from the Center are not only to be announced in the research community, but also to be announced as proposals to the society and the government.’
Among other signatories working on the issue, Kevin Ryan, continues to expose the lies behind the events of 9/11 used to justify the ‘war on terror’ ever since. In one recent thoughtful article, he describes the ‘Techniques Used to Disrupt 9/11 Questioning’. But there is plenty more of interest on his site. Appreciate your tenacity Kevin!
Unfortunately, in Brazil, it has been tough going for those resisting the Michel Temer dictatorship installed following the coup against Dilma Rouseff’s elected government in 2016 and it will be no easier following the recent election handing power to the former military officer Jair Bolsonaro. We asked mathematician, Professor Tarcisio Praciano-Pereira for a report on his role and the situation in Brazil, just prior to the election, and he kindly responded as follows:
‘I am very sorry for not having ANY thing new on my efforts through the enormous work I have been doing to finish the dictatorship installed in Brazil. Of course when I mean “I have been doing” in fact I am small piece following the fight around this hero of the world, the new Mandela, which is Lula. But for sure you know from the news that our fight is standing courageously in front of the “justiceros” installed behind the Brazilian bar.’
Declining to take any credit for his own role, Tarcisio goes on to state that ‘Modesty is just not a quality of mine, Robert. I tell the truth all the time and please, I not trying to offend you. But really I am only following the trend and this is already a lot. I am a TRANSCEIVER of the news that people produce and this already takes a lot of time. Twitter and Facebook are all the time blocking me as they perceive me as a robot and that’s what I am in this fight: ROBOT! You have to be aware of the multiple putsches they are doing day after day as just now the Judiciary election body which has ignored UN’s sentencing about Lula’s right to be in election and decide to prohibit Lula to be elected. This fight is big and I have no time to make my own. I am REPEATER and very proud to be that.
‘And to finish, your existence and fight is for sure a big support for all of us in the fight for justice.
‘In the fight with a big thank you,
Fora com vádio do traira!
Vamos derrubá-lo agora em 2018 ainda para comemorar Tiradentes’
Happy to support the just struggle of the people of Brazil Tarcisio!
Gifty Ayim-Korankye is editor of two news websites ‘Ghana Web Online’ and ‘Daughters of Africa’ which showcase news from and about Africa and, in the case of the second, focuses on the women of Africa. Gifty also set up the Twitter feed ‘End it [violence] Now’ which continues to attract significant interest from a diverse range of people around the world. Really appreciate your commitment Gifty!
Noting that ‘Social struggle calls for true transformation, a trading in of old lives for new’ and displaying a rare understanding of Gandhi, Chris Moore-Backman offers an explanation of why so many nonviolent actions and social movements fail to achieve their desired objectives. See ‘What we can really learn from Gandhi?’
Bob Koehler has written an evocative reflection recalling days in the mid-1960s, such as the one at the Pentagon in 1967 when he ‘got clonked in the head by a rifle butt’, and now gaping ‘in awe at how little has changed’. After the war on Vietnam, ‘The American public was weary … of war itself. This was called Vietnam Syndrome, and it was profoundly troubling to the political status quo. It took several decades, but Militarized America did achieve its one and only post-World War II victory. It defeated Vietnam Syndrome.’ Noting that ‘We were outmaneuvered, gerrymandered, removed from the voting roster’ he points out that ‘we have not surrendered. Is the spirit of ’68 coming back to life in the Trump era…? The War God is ruthless and clever and will not give up. Neither should we.’ For all of this fine article, see ‘Revisiting the Spirit of 1968’.
Christopher Brauchli is a columnist and lawyer known nationally in the USA for his work. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Colorado School of Law. Chris wrote an evocative account of what we are doing to our children in his article – ‘Suffer Little Children, We Command You’ – which included the words ‘It is a sad time to be a child. Who’d have thought it just a few years ago. Consider Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, and the United States, to name just a few of the places where sadness for children prevails.’
For those interested in legal understanding, on the lighter side, Chris offers a simple explanation of ‘non-disclosure’ agreements using fictional characters he calls ‘Donald’ and ‘Stormy’ in his article ‘Stormy’s Secrets’ available on his website. Very clever Chris! 🙂
Graham Peebles, whose longstanding interest in the Horn of Africa has given him much opportunity to study the region, recently reported what is happening in Ethiopia. ‘As a result of the peaceful protest campaign that started in 2015, political change is at last underway in Ethiopia, and a feeling of optimism is beginning to pervade the country. The new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, deserves much credit, but it was the actions of thousands of people who took to the streets calling for change that has forced the government to act. All those who marched in defiance of the ruling party displayed great courage and relentless determination. They risked their lives and liberty in standing up to tyranny; they are the heroes of the day, and we should salute them all.
‘Despite the government’s repeated claims to the contrary, Ethiopia has never known democracy. Under the ruling EPRDF a democratic farce took place every five years when the pretence of a general election was staged, primarily for the benefit of the regime’s main donors, America, Britain and the European Union. The ruling party has been in office for 27 painful years; they control the judiciary as well as the media and the Internet, and have virtually outlawed political dissent; the regime has murdered, intimidated and tortured, ruling the country through fear.
‘There are positive signs that those dark days are now coming to an end and that the changes longed for by so many, for so long, are now a real possibility.’ For the full account, see Graham’s article ‘A Time of Hope for Ethiopia’.
Professor John Scales Avery of Denmark recently announced the publication of his new book titled The Information Explosion. ‘This book discusses the role of information in evolution, and especially in the evolution of human culture.’ Articles and book chapters that he has written previously on this subject are incorporated in the text in modified forms, but more than half of the material is new. The book may be freely downloaded and circulated from the following link: The Information Explosion.
Commenting on the book in a recent article, John wrote: ‘We need to reform our educational systems, particularly the teaching of history. As it is taught today, history is a chronicle of power struggles and war, told from a biased national standpoint. We are taught that our own country is always heroic and in the right. We urgently need to replace this indoctrination in chauvinism by a reformed view of history, where the slow development of human culture is described, giving credit to all who have contributed. When we teach history, it should not be about power struggles. It should be about how human culture was gradually built up over thousands of years by the patient work of millions of hands and minds. Our common global culture, the music, science, literature and art that all of us share, should be presented as a precious heritage – far too precious to be risked in a thermonuclear war.’ For a taste of John’s thoughtfulness on this large subject, you are welcome to consider his article ‘The Information Explosion’.
Just recently, 1976 Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire has weighed in on the current ‘Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era’.
‘The demonization of Russia is, I believe, one of the most dangerous things that is happening in our world today. The scapegoating of Russia is an inexcusable game that the West is indulging in. It is time for political leaders and each individual to move us back from the brink of catastrophe to begin to build relationships with our Russian brothers and sisters. Too long has the elite financially gained from war while millions are moved into poverty and desperation. The people of the world have been subjected to war propaganda based on lies and misinformation and we have seen the results of invasions and occupations by NATO disguised as “humanitarian intervention” and “right to protect”. NATO has destroyed the lives of millions of people and purposely devastated their lands, causing the exodus of millions of refugees. The people around the world must not be misled yet again…. I call on all people to encourage their political leaders in the US, EU and Russia to show vision and political leadership and use their skills to build trust and work for peace and nonviolence.’ Thanks, Mairead, for saying so clearly what many of us are thinking.
After more than 50 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is Professor Emeritus, Noam Chomsky is currently a laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona. But the relocation has not slowed his intellectual output on a vast range of subjects. If you want to hear or read a little more about Noam, you can do so in ‘American Dissident: Noam Chomsky on the State of the Empire’. Beyond this, however, his recent commentaries include the following: ‘I Just Visited Lula, the World’s Most Prominent Political Prisoner. A “Soft Coup” in Brazil’s Election Will Have Global Consequences’ and ‘Facebook and Google Pose a Manifest Danger’. Perhaps his most significant videod lecture was the one he did last May at St. Olaf College titled ‘Will Organized Human Life Survive?’ In appreciation of your long-standing and unfailing truth-telling Noam. Of course, if you want to access Noam’s vast legacy of intellectual output, you can do so at his website.
Dr. Ayo Ayoola-Amale in Ghana reports on the 32nd Triennial International Congress of WILPF held in that country. The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is an international NGO established in 1915 with National Sections covering every continent. The recent conference was held on 20-22 August 2018 at the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy on the vast campus of the University of Ghana in Ghana’s capital city of Accra. The conference brought together women from around the world.
‘On the first day of Congress, WILPF welcomed five new Sections and nine new Groups. This congress saw an African – Nigerian born Joy Ada Onyesoh – become WILPF’s first African President, along with newly elected vice-presidents and other key officers. There were several group discussions across a number of key thematic issues. The 32nd congress was held within its theme “Building a Feminist Peace Movement”. The Congress voting delegates approved the framework of the proposed International Program for 2018-2021, which includes emphases on environmental concerns and issues integral to human rights activism around the world, it calls for an end to violence in all forms as it broadly outlines the approach to be undertaken internationally and by all sections, groups, and members. WILPF advancing feminist peace requires making known and working to abolish the root causes of violence, systems of oppression and their interconnection, including militarization, patriarchy, and neoliberalism. The Feminist Peace Movement in Africa Forum was held, looking at the historic and current realities of women working for peace across Africa, especially locally within conflict-affected communities. The root causes of violence and feminist work for social transformation, economic justice and peace was explored during this special forum.’
Ayo, who is a lawyer, conflict resolution professional and president of WILPF Ghana, was one of the conveners of the Congress. She underscored the crucial potential and impact of women in peace negotiations, because ‘Research has shown that where women’s inclusion is prioritized, peace is more probable, especially when women are in a position to influence decision-making. The reasons for this are not far-fetched: Women constantly bridge boundaries and build alliances for peace, they promote dialogue and build trust…. Women take an inclusive approach, whether it is stopping conflict, contributing to peace processes or rebuilding their societies after conflict or war.’
‘The Gertrud Baer Seminar for young girls was held during this historic event. The Seminar is structured so that newcomers to WILPF can get together, learn more about the organization, thoroughly discuss a variety of topics, and participate in the IEC meeting. This congress seminar explored topics such as Violence against women and Women’s Visions for a Secure and Sustainable World Society.
‘This historic congress and conference, the first WILPF international congress held in Africa after 103 years was a very successful and memorable event with great classic music from almost every country in Africa, traditional drumming and dance troupes, Poetry, Storytelling, art and craft.
‘Indeed feminist peace in Africa has come to stay!’
Thanks for such an inspirational report Ayo. Wonderful to read!
Professor Richard Jackson is Director of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. Our request for a report on activities at the Centre led to his response as follows:
‘The National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago continues to generate a large number of peace-related academic publications, new graduates in peace studies, and community peace activities. A new initiative is that the Centre will teach a new paper entitled “Peace Traditions of Aotearoa New Zealand” in Auckland as part of the 2019 Summer School. While Aotearoa New Zealand has a reputation as a peaceful country and is always near the top of the Global Peace Index, there is relatively little known about its many peace traditions. This paper will provide an opportunity to learn about how the peace traditions in Aotearoa New Zealand have evolved with a focus on Moriori and Maori peace traditions (Parihaka, Waitaha), restorative justice and the Waitangi Tribunal, anti war and anti nuclear movements, and peacekeeping in the Pacific.
‘The Centre has been delighted to have Dr Jenny Te Paa-Daniel working with us this year in the role of Te Mareikura. Jenny is a member of the Aotearoa New Zealand Peace and Conflict Studies Trust Board and a former Ahorangi at St Johns Theological College. Her advice and guidance has been invaluable as the Centre seeks to engage more fully in partnership with Tangata Whenua.
‘In 2019, the Centre will celebrate its first 10 years, to coincide with the University of Otago’s 150th celebrations. There are events and parties being planned now, with a particular focus on the week 18-23 November next year when we hope to run a range of events including a major conference, a workshop and a children’s art competition. Please mark this week in your diary – we would love to have you join us in Dunedin.’ So there you have it: Be in Dunedin in November 2019!
Aside from running the Centre, Richard continues his key role in critical terrorism studies and has also had two articles published on pacifism: ‘Pacifism – the anatomy of a subjugated knowledge’ and ‘Pacifism and the ethical imagination’.
Vijay Mehta in the UK advises the efforts and progress of Uniting for Peace, of which he is Chair. In June, Uniting for Peace hosted an Inter-Faith event for World Peace in Edinburgh in which Bhram Kumaris, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim and Jewish speakers took part appealing to all faiths to follow nonviolence as a style of politics for peace.
Uniting for Peace is now busy organising, and will host, forthcoming events in October to take place in London and Scotland (Edinburgh and Inverness) on the issue of United Nations Reforms. The events will explore the question ‘Is The UN Capable of Achieving Peace?’ You can read more about these events and other Uniting for Peace initiatives in their latest newsletter.
In addition, Vijay is publishing his forthcoming book, How Not To Go To War: Establishing Departments for Peace and Peace Centres Worldwide. The core message of the book is a response to the question ‘How can peace be institutionalised?’ The book finds that the institutions of war need to be matched by institutions of peace. For every Department of Defence, there needs to be a Department for Peace, that allocates public resources to forestall violence and militarism, by using measures of pre-emptive conflict resolution rather than waiting for war to occur and then deploying violence against it.
By opening peace/social centres/franchises, in each city, town and village, the Peace Department can contain violence and foster a culture of peace. The book shows how the establishment of a Department for Peace and Peace Centres worldwide will result in saving trillions of US dollars which governments can utilise in jobs creation, healthcare, education and peacebuilding.
‘Only by institutionalising peace at many levels of society, Vijay argues, can the peace movement become powerful enough to face-down the many commercial and official networks that have a vested interest in armed violence. A better world has less violence and war. That is what this book aims to achieve. The time for action is now. There may not be a tomorrow to wait for.’
Here is what a couple of luminaries had to say about the book:
‘In the ministerial appointments, we may well be appointing in the future a Minister for Peace and Disarmament.’ Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, UK.
‘I am happy to give my support to Ministry of Peace whose responsibility would include being a consistent voice for non-violent means of settling disputes.’ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 1989.
The book by Vijay will be released shortly.
We asked Nick Rogers to tell us something about himself and he was kind enough to oblige with this evocative account of his life and search:
‘My name is Nicholas Rogers, and I live (born and raised) in Los Angeles, CA [USA]. My father, Carl, was one of the original members of VVAW (Viet Nam Veterans Against the War), so non-violence has always been a part of my upbringing. That being said, I still bought into the idea, for a majority of my life, that there were such things as “just wars” and “unjust wars.” Now, at 33 years of age, I’ve finally seen through the veneer of mainstream media/governmental “intelligence” agency mind control; that there is no such thing as a “just war,” rather simply “tiers” of how destructive and deadly the particular weapons being used in any given “conflict” actually are, and varying degrees of resource raping/corporate profit achieved in any given assault/occupation. Living in this nuclear age with things like depleted uranium and white phosphorus, we have truly reached the exemplifying moment of truth in regards to Brzezinsky’s quote, “Today, it is infinitely easier to kill a million people than to control a million people.” From geoengineering jet aircraft aerosol-dispersed metallic nanoparticles (and biological agents), to GMO, to radioactive fallout from Fukushima (also the countless atomic bomb “tests” on land/sea/atmosphere), to EMF/RF inundation, our entire ecosystem is under constant attack with no end in sight. That being said, it’s a “slow kill” in most cases rather than instant obliteration.
‘I’ve now reached a critical fork in the road in regards to how I, and my family, move forward. Given my view that we have long-since passed the “point of no return” in regards to our runaway climate collapse (eloquently laid out in Robert J. Burrowes’ piece “Human Extinction By 2026?”), I often ask myself what the point of “fighting the system” is any more. Shouldn’t I just focus on being as healthy as I possibly can, being as empathetic as I possibly can to those with whom I interact, and educating those people who express a desire to be educated? This plan of action always leaves me feeling even sadder, more helpless, and selfish; a cop-out. What, I then ask myself, is the alternative? No one in my life (aside from my wife and one good friend), wants any part of an in-depth discussion relating to the Military Industrial Complex, 9/11 as a false flag and the ensuing fraudulent “War On Terror,” geoengineering, or the fact that countless scientists believe that most life on Earth, on the current trajectory, will be extinct before 2030. The small amount of overt activism I’ve engaged in has been fruitless, leaving me feeling frustrated and angry, solidifying my cynical view of human beings as truly, and incomprehensibly, nonsensical. Given that I’m desperately in search of some direction in regards to all I mentioned above, the Flame Tree Project is an intriguing possibility. Thank you, Mr. Burrowes, for your dedication to achieving a non-violent world. While our physical world may be deteriorating by the day, there may still be time to awaken the masses to the imperative of treating all human beings with equal respect and dignity. It is, after all, dehumanization and apathy that allows power structure atrocities to continue “round the clock”.’
Thank YOU Nick, for so beautifully articulating what we are sure that many people feel. And if any of you would like to see some wonderful photography, check out Nick’s eye for beauty in all domains on his website.
The Center on Conscience and War in the US, under the fine leadership of Maria Santelli, has recently issued their latest Newsletter. There is a tragic story about David Singh, a young man in Singapore who committed suicide in response to his inability to avoid conscription. You can see the latest issue of ‘The Reporter’ here: ‘The Reporter for Conscience’ Sake’.
John McKenna, a prominent advocate and activist for disability rights in Australia, is involved in most aspects of the struggle to enhance the lives of those with disabilities. For a recent foray into recruiting suitable personnel to provide disability services, John recently posted this video on his website: ‘Be Smart When You Recruit’.
Dr Maung Zarni of Burma/Myanmar perseveres in his relentless efforts to draw attention to the plight of the Rohingya in Burma as they continue to suffer the genocidal assault of the Tatmadaw, the Burmese military, with the active support of prominent Buddhist monks and the silent complicity of Aung San Suu Kyi and the local Catholic clergy, among others. You can see a record of some of Zarni’s recent efforts at conferences and in the media on this issue on his website.
Cheryl Anne, deeply concerned about the state of the world and with an astute capacity to ask penetrating questions, offered these questions in our request for her comments: ‘Will 2019 be the year that pixel-spun illusion meets unsustainable, and collective Western cognitive dissonance catastrophically breaks, allowing us to evolve our way out of our global messes? As the future continues to unfold a parade of unending climate and conflict disaster headlines from around the world, will 2019 mark a sea-change in humanity that ushers in a sudden awareness that resource well-being is more important than a pocketful of credit cards permitting successful Prime Consumers to purchase comfortable places in coveted social classes? Will everyone who uses Roundup suddenly realize this is a bad thing and decide to bend over to pluck unwanted volunteer plants, thereby putting Monsanto out of business? Will 2019 be the year that young moms the world over wake up and decide that no, they’re not going to feed their toddlers hfcs, soy protein, and artificial flavoring at every meal, they’re going to feed their kids real food? Will it be the year that politicians do the right thing instead of the most profitable thing? The year our global corporations decide to stop trashing the planet and pay all their employees a living wage instead of keeping it all for themselves? The year poachers decide that elephants might need their tusks more than they do and put their guns down? The year ranchers embrace a symbiotic relationship with the land, the buffalo, and the wolves? The year banks play fairly? Will it be the year we stop wasting power and shut down and clean up the world’s some 400 nuclear reactors? Stop manufacturing single-use plastic? Reformat our cities to a distributed layout where cars aren’t needed? Will 2019 be the year our narcissist species understands that resource well-being is more important than infantile obsession with the acquisitioning of fiat currency, shoes, fast cars, and power over others? The year that domination and violence for fun and profit stops and the healing begins? And, how can those of us who don’t ascribe to violence and destruction persuade those who do, to stop when they’re having so much fun?’
In an attempt to quantify U.S. warmaking, David Swanson has thoughtfully copied and republished lists from three sources – William Blum ‘America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy’, Dr. Zoltan Grossman ‘A Century of U.S. Military Interventions’ and James Lucas ‘U.S. Has Killed More Than 20 Million People’ – to make this consolidated and horrifying list readily available: ‘U.S. Wars and Hostile Actions: A List’. It is no surprise, therefore, that ‘most countries polled in December 2013 by Gallup called the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world, and why Pew found that viewpoint increased in 2017’.
Two of our signatories live in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Association de Jeunes Visionnaires pour le Développement du Congo headed by Leon Simweragi is a youth peace group that works to rehabilitate child soldiers as well as offer meaningful opportunities for the sustainable involvement of young people in matters that affect their lives and those of their community. And Christophe Nyambatsi Mutaka is the key figure at the Groupe Martin Luther King that promotes active nonviolence, human rights and peace. Christophe’s group particularly works on reducing sexual and other violence against women.
Tess Burrows in the UK continues her relentless and unusual efforts to draw attention to issues easily missed but vitally important. Building on her long-standing commitment to help the people of Tibet, she has recently been drawing attention to the role of Tibet as the world’s ‘third pole’. ‘The Himalayan Tibet Plateau holds the worlds largest store of fresh water outside the Arctic and the Antarctic. Yet it is warming twice as fast as anywhere else on the planet. This environment is under threat! Exacerbated by the forced removal of 2 million nomads, longterm stewards of the plateau, to make way for hydra-damming and mineral extraction [by China].’ You can read more about this issue and check out Tess’ books and other projects on her website.
And while we are near the third pole: on 24 November 2018, Dr. Laxman Shakya, Vice President of World Without Anger in Nepal, reports that they will hold their eighth international conference on the subject ‘Global Peace Through Emotional Literacy’. Noting that ‘Peace education, emotional intelligence and effective management of human resources and other organisation systems play an important role in building peace and harmony and for achieving balanced development and sustainability in order to develop a globally sustainable, peaceful society’, the conference has a number of goals including ‘To present and explore innovative approaches and practices in emotional intelligence (EI) and behavioural science research and applications’ and ‘To explore peace education and curriculum developments for teaching and learning emotional skills, and to model programme applications in business, organisations, academic institutions, and government organisations for a sustainable future’. Anyone interested in more information about or in attending this conference is welcome to contact Laxman <email@example.com>
Gary Corseri has been writing more politically-oriented poetry! In fact, Gary’s poetry and other writing have been widely published. So here is his poem titled ‘Me And My Shadow-Drone’ originally published by ‘Countercurrents’ which includes more of Gary’s biodata.
Me and my Shadow-Drone
went ‘walking’ down the lane.
‘If you wouldn’t mind,’
I told the Drone,
‘I’d really like to be alone….’
‘Computing…,’ said the Drone—
making some computer noise–
‘You are unhappy with our present arrangement?’
(There was just enough of the slippery-slope
in the Drone’s toneless tone
to stop me in my tracks.)
‘I was kidding,’ I explained.
‘I like being followed wherever I go.
Your biometric tabs on me
grant me the freedom to be free!
I need not worry
if I lose my way….
There’s always a link
on my smart-phone;
or, I’ll twitter my way
out of the way–
under your supervision—of course….’
‘There’s nothing quite accountable,’
intoned the Drone,
‘to account for your distress.
You’ve paid your taxes, paid your dues.
Of course….’ (an ominous pause here–)
‘There is that one ‘anonymous’ post
you thought you made
a few years back….’
‘But that was—that was…supposed to be!—
Before the “Total State Solution.”
Before the “Great Necessity.”
“We the People” were assured—’
‘”We the People” is a silly meme,’
the Drone intoned.
‘Who were those “People”
that you whine about?
Did you ever meet among the lot
a black man, woman, poor or middle-class
worker, thinker, idealist?
Where were the “Indians”
(whom Jefferson called “savages”)?
Weren’t they “the people,” too?’
The computer whined
a kind of laugh….
‘You’re on a biometric leash!
We know your thoughts before you strew them
‘Then you know I’m thinking:
You could kill me—just like that!’
(I snapped my fingers here.)
‘Quicker than that!’ the Drone intoned.
(And it made a dumb, annoying sound,
And I awakened!
I saw that everything
in the World of Now
was nothing but a hologram
and only the shadows had weight.
And I wept, remembering:
Once, too long ago,
when I was four or five,
my father hoisted me
on his strong shoulders
and handed me an ice-cream cone
and I was ten feet tall.
Young Nigerian Idowu Jawando has been reflecting deeply on the shocking state of our world and his own role in fixing that. Here is an eloquent excerpt from musings he has shared:
‘Over here in Lagos… civilization advances steadily with all its domination and exploitation, squeezing the juice out of all of us. But yet here and there, traces of a smile, the fragrance of love releases its perfume… things seem bearable for a while.
‘To the main issue: The big question on my mind is this: Can civilization be deconstructed? A part of me thinks: Yes of course, it is the actions of individuals that create this world, these same individuals also have the power to take everything down. But how about the police, the armies, the nuclear weapons and what-have you? Things are the way they are because of force. And most especially the threat of starvation too. It forces us into activities and relationships not of our choosing. Civilization uses and discards the people, over and over, squeezing them like lemons.
‘What can we do about this, if we look at the situation? You advocate non-violence, which I think may be radical if it becomes a widespread stance all around the world. But if force is used against the people, shouldn’t they protect themselves, fight back too?
‘This world as you’ve said, as I’ve read in your beautiful articles Rob, is on a death march towards extinction, but it need not be so.
‘Will the global leaders who are driven to this insane struggle for power and profit suddenly grow a compassionate nature, one that has no doubt been lost a long time ago. You and I know they won’t. With all the disasters that go on, we still see them stripping the earth bare of its life, still forcing people into precarious situations.
‘We find ourselves at a quandary. I personally find myself in a very stifling situation, but I try my best not to let it define, instead I study it as one would study a dangerous toy.
‘What do we do Rob, what do we do Anita? Life must be lived, even more beautifully. The people of the world must move towards more freedom, towards more strength, more life. We must advance at all costs, against all odds towards the dreams and desires we have for ourselves.
‘I just thought I should share these Ideas with you, because I owe part of my foundational understanding to you guys. And I believe intelligence is something that increases when shared.’
And, shortly after:
‘Indeed I have found that tenderness impacts strength and courage in others, this is something I have seen in my own existence. But can one be tender to an oppressor? I guess if there was a mass refusal of this world and all its mechanisms, there will be a lot of headway. Such a situation in my own thinking, won’t be one of making demands to any government, but collectively and individually deciding how we want to live our beautiful mortal lives and what we want the world around us to reflect: the ugliness of mindless profit-seeking or co-creative play with earthly life.
‘Many just go through life unquestioningly, accepting the state of things as normal; as well, the walls that prevent us from truly connecting with one another, is one major obstacle. The education, religious systems only encourage people to be followers, never masters of themselves.
‘But what do we really do? I think, especially here where people’s minds are filled with the most banal of bullshit, there must be more awareness of things, a deeper understanding of how the elites keep and benefit from the state of things. Yes awareness. But beyond talk, after that what next? Action, certainly.
‘I say this civilization was built with the power of men like you and I, and can also be taken down by all of us. But given the unpredictable nature of many human beings, and the mental delusions of the elite can this be done non-violently?
‘I will keep thinking about this. I realize it might take my whole life and then more, to tackle the evils of the world. But it would please me if I am moving inch by inch and encouraging others to do the same.
‘The torch of freedom must never be extinguished. But must pass from generation to generation.’
Your wonderfully considered introspection as you travel your life journey is very moving to read Idowu!
Juraj Michalek has shared a video link to a modest peace demonstration held in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, in response to war crimes in Syria. Fortunately, as Juraj and many other activists are well aware and as Gandhi explained it: ‘A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.’
Delasnieve Daspet in Brazil is a peace activist and ambassador, lawyer, writer and poet, among other things. But for now, we offer you a recent sample of her poetry, in both Portuguese and (roughly translated into) English:
A terra chama…
Do interior vem o grito
Dos verdes rios,
Das matas azuis,
Lembranças que assustam,
Esse mundo já não existe.
Globalizou-se o desmonte do planeta.
O sangue gela.
A respiração entrecorta.
As pessoas tremem,
Que alma tem nesta terra?
O tempo passa, nada muda.
O que nos aguarda?
O rio já não responde.
O mar, poluído…
O que virá nos assusta…
Mas ainda existe o vento que amaina
E sopra nas noites…
Como um chamado,
Um olhar que não se integra…
São selvas inexploradas pelo homem…
O homem avacalha tudo o que toca,
Ainda não chegou ao abissal, profundo e negro…
Ou já estaria tudo poluído…
Como poluído encontram-se os céus…
From inside comes the cry
Two green rivers,
From the blue woods,
Memories that frighten,
This world no longer exists.
The dismantling of the planet was globalized.
Breathing breaks through.
What soul do you have on this earth?
Time passes, nothing changes.
What awaits us?
The river no longer responds.
The sea, polluted…
What will come will frighten us…
But there is still the wind that subsides
And it blows in the nights…
As a call,
A look that does not integrate…
They are unexplored jungles by man…
The man avacalha all that touches,
It has not yet reached the abyssal, deep and black…
Or it would be all polluted…
How polluted are the skies…
You can also see a video of Delasnieve speaking (in Portuguese) about the project ‘The Voice of Peace’ here. In deep appreciation of your ongoing commitment Delasnieve.
Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh is volunteer Director of The Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) and the Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH). Apart from this, Mazin travels regularly, lecturing about these initiatives but also the political reality in Palestine. In a recent report, he noted forthcoming projects and called for more volunteers (local and international) to assist their existing team of ten people with implementation of these projects. You can read about these fascinating and valuable projects on the above website and email <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you wish to volunteer or donate money, books, natural history items or anything else that would be useful.
From 21 August to 9 September, prisoners in 17 states of the USA went on strike to protest inhuman living and working conditions and to promote ten basic demands. Although the formal strike is over, some prisoners are being retaliated against and others are continuing to strike. In a recent podcast for ‘Clearing the FOG’, Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese spoke with Amani Sawari, a prisoners rights activist, about the strike, the demands and how we can all provide support to finally end legalized slavery in the United States. You can listen to the interview here: ‘The National Prison Strike Isn’t Over’.
John Seed continues his indefatiguable efforts to save the world’s rainforests. His latest ongoing effort, reported last time, is focused on defending the Los Cedros Biological Reserve in Ecuador (created 30 years ago) and the indigenous people who live in the forest, against exploitation by foreign mining corporations which would destroy what is currently regarded as ‘the best forest and watershed in western Ecuador’. You can listen to an interview that John did on this subject here: ‘Interview of John Seed – Resistance Radio’. For information about John’s ongoing ‘Council of All Beings’ workshops, check out his schedule on the Rainforest Information Centre website.
In response to our request for Canadian Gerard Guay to tell us something about himself, he wrote the following:
‘I hesitate sharing my story as doing so depresses me as it surely depresses others.
‘This is why I have just erased details of my early life that so influenced the rest. I was and remain a rebel. I believe my childhood would have been happier had my uncles survived. [Both were killed in World War II.]
‘I recall introducing myself to a renowned union leader during a demonstration in Montréal who upon learning I was studying law told me I was wasting my time. He was right. One does not need membership in a law society to block a main highway so as to protect a forest from clear cutting on traditional aboriginal land. In fact it is a hindrance.
‘I also demonstrated with a chainsaw and some 60 Algonquins in front of the residence of the owner of the cutting rights who happened to be the reputed leader of organized crime in the region. I harvested all sorts of troubles notably my health and with my residences over the following decades as if the scoundrel had left instructions in his will.
‘So defending the environment is one thing we have in common and can imagine that you no doubt suffered the consequences. I had victories including a Supreme Court of Canada unanimous decision on freedom of expression in public places.
‘There is a lot more, including my time in Cuba.
‘I have read and signed the Charter. I find that no sufficient mention is given to the monetary system. David Icke has a lot to say on the Rothschilds, Rockfellers, Sorros et al.
‘I live alone with my 26 year old Down Syndrome son and spend a lot of time following alternative news sources on the internet. Thank you very much for your interest.’
And thanks to you, Gerard, for your candid account of a life spent trying to understand and improve the state of our world. Not easy hey?
Miranda Green, from Perth in Western Australia, kindly responded to our request for information about herself with these words:
‘The Lionheart Project is the first section of the current manuscript I am near finalising. I will let you know when the book Insights from the Frontlines of a Sewing Machine Activist: Art & Economy is about the be launched – it might not be October but it will most definitely be before your April report is send out. I have read your article “Strategy and Conscience: Subverting Elite Power So We End Human Violence” – and have taken note of some of the links I plan to follow up. I read Gandhi’s An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth and many other writings either by him or about non-violent action a few decades back. He made quite an impression on me – and I have incorporated his use of the spinning wheel as a symbol of resilience, localism and connection to spirit into my own approach to the sewing machine that sits centre place in my apartment. There are numerous essays from all three sections of the current manuscript which I think you might find interesting-:)’ We await with great interest Miranda.
Jonathan Power in Sweden has been an international foreign affairs columnist for over 40 years and, among his other claims to fame, has interviewed over 60 of of the world’s most famous political icons including Ignacio Lula Da Silva, Indira Gandhi, Willy Brandt, Julius Nyerere, Jimmy Carter, Olusegan Obasanjo, Dilma Rousseff, Olof Palme, Manmohan Singh and Zbigniew Brzezinski. For 17 years Jonathan wrote a weekly column on foreign affairs for the ‘International Herald Tribune’ and has also been a frequent guest columnist for the ‘New York Times’ and the ‘Washington Post’. He has also written eight books on foreign affairs and, in his early days as a journalist, made films for the BBC. He also worked on the staff of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr. Jonathan’s commitment to writing articles and books exposing the truth has often occurred when that truth has been concealed by colleagues in his own professions. A recent example of this was his article in relation to long-standing US support for Guatemala’s dictatorship: ‘Guatemala’s bloody past off the radar’.
Anyway, for access to all of Jonathan’s research, writing and films, check out his website. And, on a more personal note, just as we flagged last year, you might be wise to angle for an invitation to Jonathan’s Christmas party in Sweden this year. Offering coffee and home-made mince pies which he makes personally at 6am on Christmas Day, based on an 800 year-old recipe, it is one of the most sought-after social engagements on the European calendar!
Peter Childs and his wife Sherry, her son and daughter, ‘dropped out’ in 1971. ‘We chucked it all (not that much materially) and moved from Los Angeles to the hills of Northern California, where we bought forty acres for thirteen thousand dollars (with a spring, yet!). Sherry designed our house, I built it (the basic shell for five thousand), and here we’ve lived ever since in our little paradise, with a thirty-five mile view and still only about five lights visible at night.
‘I’ve always (at least, since I achieved “thinking age”) realized that the trail of successive “whys” was no less than the way to nowledge, even understanding, and I soon learned how quickly we abandon that trail when it becomes anything but smoothly surfaced. But I also learned that the further one does go down that trail, the more one learns, and there were certain questions that I simply could not abide abandoning, no matter who said that it was impossible to answer them (which almost everyone did). Those things were easily identified; I call them the Four Great Questions: Who (what) am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? What’s going on?
‘I don’t know how to continue from this point with anything remotely resembling brevity; describing what I’ve been taught and have learned from personal experience takes a book (I’ve written two). But what it boils down to is spiritual reality; the discovery that the trail of “whys” is in fact not endless because every one of these trails, no matter where it begins, when followed with unswerving determination will be found to end in the same “place”; with the certainty and the mystery of God. Which, needless to say, requires considerable explanation in a world where spiritual realities are almost completely not understood; where literally everything is considered only in relation to the material realities which constitute our life here in space and time. But it’s my considered opinion that our present condition is the result of our having failed to take up the Four Great Questions, and having thus in our ignorance abused the exponentially increasing material power that we’ve generated in the natural course of evolution. It seems clear to me that what we need most now is spiritual awareness, so I try to pass on what I’ve learned.’
And while we are on big questions: In a thoughtful reflection ‘A Cry From the Wilderness’, Canadian Joan McTeigue wrote the following: ‘Our planet is crying great tears. Rainfall is up an average of 3% worldwide due to planetary climate change caused by anthropogenic activities. The Arctic icecap has declined and is about to completely collapse. There are many other signs: we can easily see that major storms, flooding, wildfires and such have been increasing in strength and frequency. The Gulf Stream or AMOC has declined by at least 15% over the last couple of decades. And yet many of our political leaders, including our own Justin Trudeau here in Canada, seem to be not listening to Mother Earth’s cry. Many of the citizens on our planet, I would guess the overwhelming majority, want to live in a sane, life-friendly environment. We know this is possible. So the big question is, what can we do?’
In appreciation Joan, of your own efforts, all those mentioned above and our fellow Charter signatories all over the world who have each answered that question powerfully for themselves.
Well, as indicated above, an inadequate summary but it gives you some idea of our shared efforts.
Finally, if you or someone you know has the means and inclination to do so, any financial support for Anita and Robert to help us do this work will be much appreciated. You can see how here.
In appreciation of all of your efforts (including all of those not mentioned above)…
And don’t forget to write to us with a report on what you do!
For a world without violence; Robert, Anita and Anahata
P.S. This Charter progress report is being emailed, in a sequence of emails, to all signatories of the Nonviolence Charter for whom we have a current email address. It will also be published in the next TRANSCEND Media Service Weekly Digest and by Pressenza too.
By Robert J. Burrowes, Anita McKone & Anahata Giri