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.

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Lord Bates’ Walk for Peace 2014

Lord Bates’ Walk for Peace 2014

Lord Michael Bates sets off on his Walk for Peace on 4 August.  He is walking 1,000 miles from London to Berlin to raise funds for medical care for child victims of war.

Walk for Peace

A patron of the London Peace Network and a vigorous promoter of the Olympic Truce and non-violence, he walked from London to Olympia in 2011-12 and in aid of the children of Syria last year.

This year, his route reminds us of the horrific C20th conflicts which started in Europe and what happens when we are unable to resolve our differences without resorting to violence.

anything war can doThe walk is also raising awareness of the innocent victims of current conflict – children.

Sponsorship for the walk is going to Peace Village International, a German charity which helps children in areas of war and crisis.

Follow Lord Bates on twitter @BatesLord, keep him going with messages of goodwill and encouragement, sponsor the walk and follow his progress on his Walk for Peace blog as he starts out from Westminster Abbey on 4th August after the “lights out” ceremony – a solemn commemoration of Britain declaring war in 1914.

He arrives in Berlin on 2nd October, the UN International Day of Non-Violence.

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.

peace_leaflet_muslim_final

Flyer for Islamic centres

peace_leaflet_jewish_final

Flyer for synagogues and Jewish centres.

peace_leaflet_christian_final

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.

London Peace Network plans for 2014

London Peace Network plans for 2014

Planning any peace-building activities this year?

The London Peace Network team is gathering on Monday 17 February & we’re excited to hear about your ideas.

Let us know if you’d like to link up and be part of the Network’s activities this year.  Can we support you?  Could we work together?

We’ll be building on our plans so far:

  • marking the UN International Day of Peace over the weekend of 19-21 September
  • Flying for Peace across the Thames (September)
  • exchange visits and peace activities in schools & colleges
  • Peace-Skyping across the continents
  • an energetic launch event
  • bringing together our local communities to celebrate grassroots peace-building
  • practical skills workshops
  • involving our European and global networks & linking up with activities across the UK
  • promoting peace and justice activities across the capital

Find us on Facebook and follow us on twitter.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Teachers! Classroom activities & assembly ideas

TES

Plenty of ideas and resources for school on the TES site: conflict resolution, wallcharts, global citizenship, refugee stories, making peace doves and much more on peace, for use around the UN International Day of Peace (21 September) or at other times of the year.  Register for free and then download the materials.

Churches invite guests to visit on 22nd September

The salaam / shalom / peace bird is flying again!

Visit our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/sept21 for all the latest news and information – like, link, share!

Islamic centres will be inviting in visitors to share messages of peace on Friday 20th September.  Synagogues will be doing the same on Saturday 21st September and churches on Sunday 22nd September.

peace_leaflet_church_webThe flyer for churches is available now – download it here.  The flyers for Islamic centres and synagogues will be available soon – keep a look-out on the Facebook page or bookmark this blog.

Six simple steps towards peaceful relationships in your neighbourhood:

  1. Decide when you would like your visitors to arrive.
  2. Contact your local faith forum to find people from different religious traditions.
  3. Invite them to your Islamic centre, synagogue or church, along with any information they may find useful for their visit.
  4. When they arrive, exchange the messages of peace on the back of the flyer – or your own messages of peace.
  5. You may offer a cup of tea or some simple hospitality – it is up to you.
  6. If you would like to stay in touch, exchange contact details before your guests leave.