Frank Dorrell, who maintains the AddictedToWar.com site and sells copies of Joel Andreas’ book by that title, has compiled a well-documented series of films about how our addiction to war plays out: It’s called “What I’ve Learned About US Foreign Policy” www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gMGhrkoncA . The last 10 min. shares some of S. Brian Willson’s story. I [Jan] find it particularly inspiring because of how Brian learns through his life and shares that learning so powerfully. Knowing that “We are not worth more. They are not worth less.” has led him to exceptional commitment, joy & pain. More about Brian here: https://www.brianwillson.com/autobiography/ and here is the link for just that last section of Frank’s film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6ljl3q9nT0 .
Having been involved in Conscience Canada for over 40 years now, I [Jan Slakov] have seen our thinking evolve. The threat of nuclear war is still present, but is now in some ways eclipsed by other threats, notably ecological collapse.
We see the roots of these threats as inextricably related; we know that, in our efforts to defend the earth, there is a real need to defund war.
So it’s truly heartening to see that some young people share this view and are working for change. Let’s do our best to support Kasha Sequoia Slavner and her team with their film, “1.5 Degrees of Peace”.
Learn more here: https://www.1point5degreesofpeace.com/
Conscience Canada will have a “virtual booth” at the World Beyond War conference starting July 8. There’s still time to register! See: https://act.worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2022/?
What does it mean to say “no” to the war in Ukraine, or war in general?
The dominant narrative we’re generally exposed to assumes that stopping the war in Ukraine requires sending more guns, also mercenaries, to Ukraine, and the place for “nonviolence” is in humanitarian aid. To better understand how we could be using the tools of nonviolence to stop this war, and war in general, I highly recommend the Waging Nonviolence website.
A talk worth listening to is this one, featuring peace researcher, award-winning author, founder of the Program on Nonviolent Action at the US Institute of Peace, Maria Stephan, followed by a more philosophical perspective from Michael Nagler, but there are so many interesting pieces that need wider audiences on the Waging Nonviolence website!
Also take a few moments to read the Canadian Friends Service Committee’s heartfelt and thoughtful open letter.
Prime Minister Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Joly: Now is the time for Canada to use all tools available to push for de-escalation, negotiation, and diplomacy. NOT shipping arms, sending troops, or fanning the flames of war. There is no military solution here.
Are We Done Fighting? – Building Understanding in a World of Hate and Division
https://arewedonefighting.com/, by Matthew Legge, is a rarely valuable book. It explores the dynamics of relationships and conflict from the interpersonal to the international level in ways that invite readers to see these issues with new understanding. It’s so rich that I’m not the only person who finds it useful to go back to it often, finding new insights each time. Most of all, the book, especially if it provides the jumping off point for discussion and exploration with others, can be useful in a variety of contexts.
It occurred to me that Are We Done Fighting? reminds me of another of my favourite books, Prisons We Choose to Live Inside, by Doris Lessing. Both books expose the frailties and failings of how our minds work and how this can lead to disaster. However Legge’s book devotes as much or more space for insights and stories of how we are also “wired” for love, connection, justice and peace.
I’m also reminded of books by Leonard Desroches, which help us see what a powerful force nonviolence can be and how we can build the resources to keep ourselves out of the clutches of what Ursula Franklin understood violence to be: resourcelessness. Another book with numerous inspiring, dare I say, exciting, examples of how the power of nonviolence can transform situations is Dave Hubert’s Canada @ Peace: Coactive Security.
On a different, but related topic, there’s Shakil Choudhury’s Deep Diversity https://shakilwrites.com/. Both Choudhury and Legge offer workshops, opportunities for anyone with a zoom connection to deepen their learning with others. (And both books provide ample insight into the psychological aspects of, in one case, racial injustice, in the other, polarization, conflict and violence – both- in ways that are readily accessible to people without training in these fields.)
As physician Dale Dewar (former ED of Physicians for Global Survival) warns, “We must end war or ultimately it will end us.” At the root of war is our proclivity towards “othering” – when we see others as somehow lesser, or threatening – making it easier to harm them. This susceptibility threatens our very existence, not just because of the dangers of war and injustice, but also because this mindset permeates our relationship to the natural world, creating a war against nature that is ultimately suicidal. Are We Done Fighting? can be an exceptionally useful tool, a guidebook, for helping ourselves out of this mess. It does not naively minimize the dangers we face, nor does it tend towards fatalism or despair. Indeed, the book, and also the FREE workshops linked to the book help free us from the shackles that can lead to complicity in violence and cynicism.
Printed on “paper from responsible sources” by New Society Publishers, this is a book we can feel good about buying and getting into the hands of friends and family, our libraries and maybe also people in positions of influence, who could use the vision and information to “spread the peace virus”.
The following document contains the 2021 Conscience Canada Annual General Meeting Minutes and Board Report for 2020, as well as an Open Discussion and questions about the future of Conscience Canada.