Quakers’ Marigold Bentley on Radio 2 today

Quakers’ Marigold Bentley on Radio 2 today

Marigold speaking at Monday's Peace Conference.  Photo: William Barylo

Marigold speaking at Monday’s Peace Conference.

Marigold Bentley, who was the closing keynote speaker at the Peace Conference on Monday, will be a guest on Radio 2 today between 12 noon and 12.20pm.

She’ll be talking about the UN International Day of Peace and the current international situation.

Marigold is the Assistant General Secretary, Quaker Peace & Social Witness & Secretary, Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations.

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90 peace-builders gather in London!

90 peace-builders gather in London!

Group photo

Holding our #PeaceDay messages at St Ethelburga’s on Monday

Over 90 people from many different religions and convictions came together on Monday 15 September at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace.

There were experiential and skills-based workshops, panel discussions on hot topics, a world première screening of a new MUJU film, interactive sessions and singing from students of the Khalsa Secondary Academy.

The organisers (The Cordoba Foundation, London Peace Network and Faith-based Regeneration Network) proposed a statement of practical intent and commitment to peace-building in the 21st century:

We recognise that peace is not just an absence of conflict but is about building a world where all can flourish without fear. 

We know that fear and violence prosper in a world of ignorance and mistrust where we demonise the ‘other’ and mistakenly elevate ourselves as superior; whether that is across nations and peoples, in our streets and communities, or even in our own homes.

Disputes exist, injustice exists, exploitation exists – we know that these things are real in the world and words alone cannot solve these problems. 

But, coming together today, we dedicate ourselves to find peaceful ways to pursue justice, to stand up and be active, and to use our joint energies and influence for creative and not destructive outcomes.

More pictures from the event can be found here and a press release here.  Download the welcome pack here.

Make your own #PeaceDay message and post it on our Facebook page!  Download the A4 sheet here.

Lord Bates on War Games

Lord Bates on War Games

14758550628_6cd3763655_zLord Bates is on his #Walk4Peace from London to Berlin.  He writes each evening and on Saturday his walk took him past a reenactment of a WWII battle.

Here he wonders why “we want to believe that there are good people (us) and bad people (them) out to get us.”

At breakfast the restaurant was already full with a party of  Canadians who were on a special tour of WWII battlefield sites.

Dieppe was a key point on the tour for it was where a largely Canadian armed force of approx 6000 tried a daring raid  ‘Operation Jubilee’ against heavy German defences on 19 August, 1942. Of the 5000 Canadian forces 3367 were either killed, wounded or captured. It was a huge blow to morale of the Allies and in particular the Canadians who bore the brunt of the losses. Still, over seventy years later people want to come and hear about what went on that day in the greatest possible detail.

Looking at the leaflets of local attractions on display in the reception area the majority were for war related museums and monuments. In the evening we noticed a huge camp being erected on the beach front of military tents, jeeps and memorabilia and men in WWII style army uniforms which I understand is part of an annual reenactment of that fateful day in 1942 and is attended by visitors from US, UK and Canada. All this militarism should make for uneasy viewing on what was a ‘Walk for Peace’ but it didn’t. I actually found it all fascinating and thought the dressed up soldiers looked heroic and made me feel patriotic.

This raised a deeper question: What is it about war and violence which fascinates and entertains us men? We would naturally flinch at such accusations that we would see any entertainment in war or violence as we tune in to the 24 hour news channels with exploding bombs, plumes of smoke and blood soaked casualties on endless replay. It is not just old men who romance about war and violence. If we look at the top selling video computer games they are titles like: ‘Call of Duty’; ‘World of Tanks’; ‘Command & Conquer’; ‘World of Warcraft’; ‘Band of Brothers’; ‘Assassins’; ‘Counter Strike’ and ‘Warhammer’. Then consider the current movie releases: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’; ‘X-Men’; ‘Dawn of Planet of the Apes’; ’300: Rise of an Empire’.

This is not an accusatory point it is to seek to make a revelatory point that violence and war are deep within our male DNA and we need to understand it and control it or it will continue to control and destroy us. To underscore the humility with which I approach this topic if I was asked my top movie pictures then Saving Private Ryan, First Knight, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Man on Fire, James Bond–Skyfall and Gladiator would be right up there.

Think of all the war movies, all the Westerns, all the computer games have in common is that there is a bad person, pure evil and they are intent on threatening our way of life or our loved ones, so up steps a goodie who knocks seven bells out of the baddie whilst protecting women and children and never forgetting to rush back into danger to rescue wounded comrades. The hero saves the day and gets the girl. It works. It has worked as the theme of literature certainly from Greek classical antiquity (8th century BC) with the ‘Trojan War Cycle’ or from the same period in China, Sun Tzu ‘The Art of War’, but why does it work?

I want to try an answer, which is audacious because I have not the mind nor the knowledge so to do, but it seems to me that we want to believe that there are good people (us) and bad people (them) out to get us. The truth is that the angels and demons are not different characters in a computer game, a movie or even present day nations, tribes or  religions they are elements within each and every one of us. We each have the capacity to love and to hate. To help or to harm. To care to abuse. To build or to destroy. To be loyal or disloyal. To want to serve or to control. To lie or to speak the truth.

What has this to do with war? This: that men prefer war because it  a way of escaping the real battle which within each and every one of us each and every day. We see on our tv screens a world of ‘baddies’, new ones emerging every day and we convince ourselves that if only we ‘goodies’ can this latest demon to kingdom come by foul means or fair then we will save the day and create peace on earth. Just like in the movies. The problem is that in externalising this internal problem of the male human condition we deny the possibility of its solution. We are in a state of perpetual war with the world because we haven’t conquered our inner warrior spirit. Peace won’t come in the world until it happens within us.

Now that may be my best effort with a third-class brain but here is a first-class brain (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) to sum up my long ramble in a few succinct lines:

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
― The Gulag Archipelago

Read the full piece here and follow Lord Bates on Twitter.

Silence, prayers, action for peace in the Middle East

Silence, prayers, action for peace in the Middle East

Join us on Tuesday 5 August 4pm – 5.30pm.

The Christian Muslim Forum and St Ethelburga’s are bringing people together from all faiths and none in the Tent at St Ethelburga’s, Bishopsgate, EC2.

“We watch the news in great distress as we see our Jewish, Christian and Muslim sisters and brothers being killed and on the receiving end of atrocities in Syria, Israel, Palestine, Iraq and Egypt.

We aim, through various inter faith and peace initiatives, to model the way of peaceful dialogue while petitioning our leaders and politicians to use their influence and intervene constructively.

However, clicking on internet petitions and speaking out can seem like small actions or that our voices are not being heard. What can we do?”

More information here – places are limited and booking essential.  Bring a prayer or meditation with you if you wish.

Update: the Tent was packed to capacity -view photos here.

Peace flyers for 19, 20, 21 September!

Peace flyers for 19, 20, 21 September!

Peace flyers for Islamic centres, synagogues, churches and meeting houses are now ready!

Click on the images below to download the flyers.

Send links to friends, colleagues, neighbours and networks, encouraging them to open up their places of worship, inviting in neighbouring communities and visitors during peace weekend.

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Flyer for Islamic centres

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Flyer for synagogues and Jewish centres.

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Flyer for churches, Meeting Houses and Christian centres.

 

We are delighted that the Quakers have added their support this year, and that Religions for Peace UK are also encouraging their members to get involved.

Islamic centres will be receiving visitors on Friday 19 September, synagogues on Saturday 20 September and churches and Meeting Houses on Sunday 21 September.

Everyone participating will be part of a world wide weekend of action for peace-making, truce, reconciliation, mediation, ceasefire and a celebration of peace-building.

If you have any questions or would like to know more, please contact the people listed on the flyers or the London Peace Network.