Victor Postnikov, a translator, electrical engineer, philosopher living in the Ukraine writes about his homeland, as a “black hole for humanity”. His view of how greed and loss of ecological integrity has harmed his homeland can be seen as a parable for the whole planet.
Good evening. I’m Petra Bridgeman, and this is The National.
Today the Government of Canada along with the other Arctic nations gathered in Narvik, Norway signed NEENAC (No Extraction Exploration North of the Arctic Circle), the treaty making the Arctic Ocean and the surrounding continental shelves a mining-free zone. As a result of this treaty, all lands and waters north of the Arctic Circle will be out of bounds to extraction exploration and drilling. Minister Greenveldt said that the polar nations, along with all major Canadian oil and mining companies, now clearly see that the Arctic environment is too fragile for industrial development. Furthermore, it was acknowledged, such activity in this multinational region creates a high risk of military confrontation over rights of mining and transportation.
Minister Greenveldt will be back in the House of Commons tomorrow, not just to celebrate this achievement, but to get back to other Department of Peace initiatives waiting for parliamentary approval, notably the International Peace Stations in Kurdistan and northern Nigeria. He will then resume his cross-country tour to persuade Canadians to support these and other peace initiatives by voluntarily re-directing 8% of their federal income tax to the Department of Peace.
Here is a clip from his speech to the legislature in Regina last month: “Canadians, over the last decade and a half, have had their vision clouded by creeping militarism. But today, many have come to realize that they’ve been misled. Many now see that diplomatic negotiations and well-planned actions by people trained in conflict resolution are the best way to solve international problems. In the past we have reacted impulsively and aggressively and, frankly, blindly against those who oppose our interests in their part of the world. In our attempt to stamp out their fire, live sparks started up multiple fires locally and abroad. Despite all our military efforts in the first two decades of this century, there is now a self-styled caliphate in the Middle East basket. Because a significant number of Canadians have seen that violence is not the way to peace they are unwilling to support it with their taxes and have opted instead to support our new Department of Peace.”
Mary Groh and Eric Unger for Conscience Canada
A single word: RESIST! As simple and difficult a solution as that.
Terrorists of all stripes seek to frighten, to impose their ideas by fear, terror. Beheadings on the Internet, planes into the World Trade Center, and now massacre in the editorial boardroom of Charlie Hebdo. Not to mention kidnappings, torture, rapes, and remote bombings through rockets or drones.
First of all, we must help the victims and arrest the suspects to be judged in a court of law, quite obviously. And then, we must minimize the risk of further attacks because the necessary support of citizens will not be possible unless they feel reassured.
But beyond this minimum of justice and security, how to deal with this increasingly multifaceted and borderless terrorist threat? If this horrible attack against satirical journalists and cartoonists is clearly an attack against freedom of expression and democracy, can we afford to call it a “declaration of war”, as some have not hesitated to do? Because how do we spontaneously respond to any declaration of war? All too often, alas, by the Pavlovian response of “going to war”! And it is precisely, in my opinion, the last thing to do!
And why not declare war on these “barbarians”, these “enemies of humanity”?
- First, because it would give them reason: they do want war to impose their views and they would have managed to drag us onto their turf.
- Moreover, because it would have us use the same means (violence, repression, torture) that we condemn, in violation of the principles we claim to defend as our most precious values (human rights, rule of law, freedom, democracy).
- But above all, because war and violence have never been a true and lasting solution to the problems, violence or wars they pretended to solve (and recent History cannot provide more conclusive evidence: look at our most recent three “victorious” wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya!).
Does it mean keeping passive and waiting for better days? Of course not! TO RESIST is the exact opposite of passivity, as, properly understood, nonviolence has always been. TO RESIST means providing ourselves the capacity of standing tall, together, united and fearless. TO RESIST means going on with our lives without letting our attitudes and choices be dictated by this very fear that terrorists want to impose. TO RESIST also means resisting our desires for revenge, easy shortcuts and amalgams, looking for scapegoats. Because TO RESIST means, above all, being able to stay open to the other, to build bridges rather than barriers, to love instead of to hate. Yes, learn how to love the other, the different, the Muslim. Because no other solution than love, in the most demanding and profound sense, can ever effectively respond to the horror.
– Dominique Boisvert
The MCC (Canadian Mennonite Central Committee) has a new issue of its journal, Intersections, available on the theme of conscientious objection. It’s a great resource, with information on the situation in various countries and stories of various COs, including one from our president, Mary Groh, on The Making of a COMT (conscientious objector to military taxation).
Check it out HERE
Quebec Conscience Canada members Maryse Azzaria and Dominique Boisvert drafted letters to all MPs who voted against the combat mission against ISIS. Below is a sample letter. So far two Quebec NDP MPs, Raymond Côté and Djaouida Sellah, have replied expressing interest.
October 8, 2014
Dear Elizabeth May,
Your vote against Canada going to war is comforting. We are grateful that you have seen through the military policies of Prime Minister Harper. The planned bombing will result in civilian deaths and environmental devastation. Moreover, bombing does not stop terrorism, it makes it flourish.
November 11 is near. You will soon be invited to wear a Red Poppy to honour soldiers who died at war. This tradition began after World War I. However, another tradition was launched in England in 1933, and since 1998 is growing in Canada: to wear a White Poppy to honour ALL victims of war, civilian and military. In modern wars, military deaths are estimated at 5%, while 95% of casualties are civilian, mostly women and children. The White Poppy also challenges the drive to war, and calls for peaceful conflict resolution. This is in line with Canadian values and traditions.
Your vote is an important gesture. As a concrete and visible way of continuing to say NO to this war, may we suggest, that you either refrain from wearing a Red Poppy this year, or that you wear a White Poppy, beside the Red Poppy. This would emphasize your protest against the CF18 bombing and other military actions. By wearing a White Poppy, you will also be mourning all the victims of this unjustified war.
Maryse Azzaria, Ste-Julienne, QC
Dominique Boivert, Scotstown, QC
Mary Groh, Scarborough, ON
Murray Lumley, Toronto, ON
Jan Slakov, Salt Spring Island, BC
Dr Dwyer Sullivan, Kitchener, ON
Eric Unger, Winnipeg, MB
Donald Woodside, M.D., Dundas. ON
Nos impôts pour la paix / Conscience Canada
135 Deer Park Rd. Salt Spring Is. BC V8K 1P5
To order a WHite Poppy:
Tel.: (250) 537-5251
Have you been wondering what our response should be to the rise of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)?
Through the Project Ploughshares “peace list” and a discussion among current and former Conscience Canada board members and friends, Jan Slakov collected some articles and insights, below:
This letter to Barak Obama proposes constructive, nonviolent alternatives to a militarized response:
http://fr.scribd.com/doc/238003591/Letter-to-President-Barack-Obama-on-alternatives-to-U-S-military-action-in-Iraq. (Links to other articles, including party leaders’ statements on the Oct. 3 debate in the House, are below.)
Here is what peace activist, WILPF member Jillian Skeet, wrote:
I realize that this letter may come across as a little harsh. If it does, please consider its message and recognize that the tone reflects an anger and disappointment with the American judicial system that is extremely difficult to put into words. It is sent respectfully, in the hope that you, at least, will exercise whatever authority and integrity you possess to get American justice back on the rails.
I recently learned that Mary Anne Grady Flores was sentenced to a year in prison. If you’re unfamiliar with the reason(s), it would be very appropriate for you to find out.
Dear Minister Oliver:
Thank you for your reply (on paper) to my letter to you of April 30, 2014 in which I asked your government to support a bill similar to Private Member’s Bill C-363 (2011), an Act respecting Conscientious Objection to the use of taxes for military purposes, which would allow me to direct that all my taxes be spent only for peaceful purposes.
In your letter you said, in part, “Allowing taxpayers to direct their tax dollars to only certain programs and services would be neither democratic nor practical. It would effectively mean, for instance, that wealthier Canadians who pay higher taxes would have a greater say in the functioning of the country, through their decisions about which programs and services to fund (or not to fund) … Allowing each taxpayer to allocate his or her taxes among the many government programs and services would be tremendously complicated, and would make funding for ongoing government services less reliable, making it more difficult to plan and deliver those services effectively.”
Doubleday, 2009. 242 pages
review by Mary Groh
The Prayer of St. Francis, “Make me a channel of your peace”, I have sung often, but I never knew that St. Francis of Assisi took his peacemaking efforts right up to a political and international level until I read this book. Paul Moses, a New York journalist, editor and professor, did a thorough piece of research to find out as much as possible about an intriguing event of the 13th century.
During the Fifth Crusade in 1219 the Crusaders aimed at capturing the city of Damietta in the Nile Delta as a start to the capture of Egypt. Francis felt called to try to avert the impending violence by meeting personally with the Sultan of Egypt, Malik al-Kamid, a nephew of Saladdin. Accompanied only by another brother, he travelled on foot and unarmed from the Crusader encampment on one side of the Nile right to the Sultan’s camp across the river and 8 miles south. The men’s peaceful demeanour disarmed the guards and they were taken to the Sultan, whom he greeted with “May the Lord give you peace.” He denied being an emissary of the Crusade leaders, and claimed he had come as a messenger of the Lord God, and asked for a hearing.