Thursday, December 18, 2008

Newborn beginning...after Caesar

We live in the midst of empire,
awaiting the birth of the baby the angel foretold.

Caesar decreed a census, everyone counted;
Caesar intended to have up-to-date data for the tax rolls;
Caesar intended to have current lists of draft eligibility;
Caesar intended taxes to support armies,
because the emperor, in whatever era,
is always about money and power,
about power and force,
about force and control,
and eventually violence.

And while we wait for the Christ Child,
we are enthralled by the things of Caesar –
money…power…control,
and all the well-being that comes from
such control, even if it requires a little violence.

But in the midst of the decree
will come this long-expected Jesus,
innocent, vulnerable, full of grace and truth,
grace and not power, truth and not money,
mercy and not control.

We also dwell in the land of Caesar;
we pray for the gift of your spirit,
that we may loosen our grip on the things of Caesar,
that we may turn our eyes toward the baby,
our ears toward the newness,
our hearts toward the gentleness,
our power and money and control
toward your new governance.

We crave the newness.
And while the decree of the emperor
rings in our ears with such authority,
give us newness that we may start again
at the beginning,
that the innocence of the baby may
intrude upon our ambiguity,
that the vulnerability of the child may
veto our lust for control,
that we may be filled with wonder
and so less of anxiety,
in the blessed name of the baby we pray.

(Walter Brueggemann, Prayers For A Privileged People)

The 08/09 veg season

Back in late September I dug over and planted out my veggie patch. It's been a year in the making, having removed two huge stumps, composted, and pulled out three buckets full of little river pebbles. So these were the before and after pictures:

Before:

After:
Before:

After:
I now have zucchini, tomato, strawberries, onions, pumpkins, beans, basil, cucumber, and various kinds of lettuce in there. Then there's the pots with capsicum, carrots, roquette, and lemon, lime and orange trees. And all of this companion planted with nasturtiums and marigolds.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

meanwhile, outside the world trade centre

I went to the World Trade Centre today, because that's where Thales is*, and I'm leading a group of NCYCers on a peace experience (we were thinking about vigiling outside Thales, but probably won't now). Anyway, just over the road, on the steps that lead to the train station, was this lovely piece of graffiti.

* Thales in Australia is ADI Limited, the largest supplier of weapons and military equipment to the Australian Defence Forces.





Thursday, November 06, 2008

quote of the day indeed

Most days I wonder why I keep that quotes of the day feed...then occasionally I chuckle at one like this and leave it intact.
"I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it."
Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Article: Between Sojourners and the Simple Way

Highly recommend this long but very impressive article, take the time to read it if you can. He's basically arguing for a Christian way of living that finds a path between the pragmatism of Sojourners and the idealism of Simple Way...can't say I agree with absolutely everything he's said here, particularly with regard to Yoder (who doesn't speak with one voice any more than the next person), but it outlines the tensions really well and proposes some excellent ways forward.
There will always be tensions between the local practices of the faith community and wider movements for social change, prophetic actions and pragmatic policy-pushing, the primacy of faith language and the necessity of public language. The challenge is to avoid setting up false alternatives for ourselves, to avoid thinking that our particular piece of the puzzle is the only one that matters. Instead of dismissing either prophetic signs and alternative experiments or advocacy and civic participation, we need to find ways to deepen the connections between them, because the possibilities for authentic cultural transformation just might lie at their intersection.
(thanks to AAANZ for the heads up)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A couple of articles in the Age today reveal once again what many of us already knew: that police have been routinely posing as activists to covertly infiltrate campaigns to gather intelligence. Even the Palm Sunday peace march for crying out loud. Maybe that means the government finally gets the seditious nature of Palm Sunday?

Police spying on activists revealed

* Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie
* October 16, 2008

VICTORIA Police's secret intelligence unit has infiltrated Melbourne's activist and community groups for two years to gather information on protests against the Iraq War, Japanese whaling and a weapons exhibition.

Reigniting civil liberties concerns about police spying, an officer from the police Security Intelligence Group has infiltrated groups such as Animal Liberation Victoria, Stop the War Coalition, Unity for Peace and Socialist Alternative.

The officer, who posed as a vegan, left-wing activist, has also had close contact with representatives of church and student groups involved in anti-war demonstrations. So successful was his operation that the organising committee for this year's Palm Sunday peace march in Melbourne appointed him its minute-taker at meetings.


And this:

The spying game

* RIchard Baker and Nick McKenzie
* October 16, 2008

IT WAS a simple mistake. The quiet, polite young activist who had been working every Tuesday as a volunteer in Animal Liberation Victoria's Melbourne office did not shut down his computer properly before leaving.

Andrew* had left his personal email account open. For those in the group who had nagging doubts about the bona fides of the eager young man who had turned up out of nowhere in February 2007, it was an opportunity too good to resist.

But the scan of Andrew's email account raised more questions than answers. He had very few email contacts; no friends, family or work colleagues. It appeared the only email addresses he had belonged to the people sneaking a look at his email account - the animal rights folk - plus maybe a few others in Melbourne's activist community.

Who was this guy who wanted the crappy job of taking notes at meetings? Why was he always so keen to know when the next animal rescue or protest was on? How come this vegan appeared to have no knowledge of Melbourne's vegetarian restaurants?


The empire is alive and well.

People sometimes think I'm paranoid, but I always assume there's at least one member of the police force at any meeting or phone hookup or email network...rarely is there any need for secrecy anyway. But this shows the immoral lengths government is willing to go to to minimise dissent under the pretense of 'public safety'. If you're a concerned police officer, go to the meetings in uniform and explain why you're there. Who knows, we might even get along.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

More John Dear gold

John's been on a roll lately in his NCR column as he does his book tour around the US...here's just a couple of selections...click the links for the whole article.
I've encountered many activists over the years, and a good many seething with anger. And who would blame them? But I've learned that in the end, anger consumes our heart's energies and can lead us to abandon our work for justice and peace. We saw this in the 1960s when many young people railed against the Vietnam War and their anger erupted in violent protests. Because they did not go beyond their anger into the spiritual roots of peacemaking, I think many gave up the journey to peace.

My own experience seems to bear that out. The more you learn about injustice, war and poverty, the more overwhelmed you can get. Things are far worse, you discover, than you first realized. Anger is often the first emotion on the scene. But anger doesn't sustain you for the long haul work of lifelong peacemaking and nonviolent resistance.
And this:
Everywhere I go, someone asks, "Are you saying we cannot use violence any more?" Yes, I answer. "How then do we defend ourselves from someone who intends to do us harm? How do we defend ourselves from terrorists who want to hurt us? How do we defend ourselves from other nations?" "Nonviolently!" I answer.

It sounds foolish, of course, but I point folks back to the nonviolent Jesus and suggest that he teaches a whole new way of life..

We're so used to violence. We easily believe the myth of redemptive violence, the lie of war, the false spirituality of violence, the misguided notion that might makes right, that war is justified, that our weapons protect us, that violence works. I suspect we don't trust God, don't think God can protect us, don't take Jesus seriously. In the end, such questions reveal our lack of faith. Do we believe in the God of peace or not?

the temptation of the Sadducees

"There has been a degree of success in avoiding the temptations of the Pharisees… But one cannot be so sure that there has been equal success in discerning and avoiding the temptation of the Sadducees, which is also a form of servitude to the Powers. By this we mean the assumption that the forces which really determine the march of history are in the hands of the leaders of the armies and the markets, in such measure that if Christians are to contribute to the renewal of society they will need to seek, like everyone else – in fact in competition with everyone else – to become in their turn the lords of the state and the economy, so as to use that power toward the ends they consider desirable." -- John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, p. 156.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

the inspiral Defence White Paper contribution

This was inspiral's contribution to the White Paper consultations, written and read by Anthony.

My name is Anthony Nicholas. I am speaking on behalf of Inspiral, a faith community in the inner north of Melbourne, Australia, who are exploring together the way of life demonstrated by Jesus Christ. We have been asked to address three questions:

1) What role should our armed forces play?
2) What kind of armed forces should we develop?
3) Can we afford such forces?

I would like to answer these questions by way of a short concrete example.
On October 26, 2003, police raided the Sydney home of a Pakistani-Australian man called Faheem Khalid Lodhi. They found terrorist manuals showing how to make detonators, explosive devices and poisons. They also found maps of the Sydney electricity supply system and 38 aerial photos of Australian military installations. Justice Anthony Whealy determined that Lodhi’s intent was to pursue “violent jihad” to “instil terror into members of the public so that they could never again feel free from the threat of bombing in Australia.” Lodhi is now serving 20 years in prison classified as a high security ‘AA’ prisoner.

Lodhi was sent by a Pakistani Muslim Group called Lashkar-e-Taiba historically based in Pakistani Punjab. Lashkar-e-Taiba has always wanted India out of Kashmir. After September 11, they starting fighting in Afghanistan. Lodhi was sent here with orders to bomb because Lashkar did not like Australian troops fighting in Afghanistan. This example shows the kind of threats Australia is facing – they are real and have the potential to do great harm.

Our tanks, missiles and planes are not going to stop Lashkar-e-Taiba’s next bomber. To rely on the police is a bad idea – they will not stop these bombers every time, in every place. No - the soldier Australia needs to win this war is not Australian – he or she is a Pakistani Muslim. They are going to stop that bomber because they are going to say “Hey everybody, I don’t agree with this suicide bombing against Australia. Australians aren’t anti-muslim. Maybe we disagree on some things, but this is too much.” That is the soldier we need. They question is, how do we recruit them?

That is a hard question. But, you know what - we’ve done it before. Over 35 years, 40,000 people from Asia came to study in Australian institutions under the Colombo Plan. That’s a 40,000 strong army of people through Asia willing to give us a chance and a fair go to speak up on our behalf. What about now in Pakistan and Afghanistan? Have we got people on the ground? We need an army there, local people, muslims, who understand us, who will speak up on our behalf. We will have those people on the ground speaking up for us only if we act with love towards them. We must ensure that we do not act in a way that threatens their security, and instead chose a path that positively promotes their well-being. The Colombo plan is just one example showing our ability to do that when we set our minds to it.

Can we afford to reach out with love to our neighbours? Can we afford to bring them here on scholarships, to spend money learning their languages and reconciling our views of what is just? Yes we can. We far prefer our money spent on building happiness, justice (both here and overseas) and security rather than in buying more bullets, guns and insecurity.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Defence White Paper public consultations

Eight of us from inspiral went to the Defence White Paper public consultations last night. Submissions were overwhelmingly for more peaceful means of defence and security. This is the verbal submission I made on behalf of Urban Seed.

Thankyou for this opportunity to voice some of what I believe about defence and security. As someone who has committed his life to pursuing peace and justice through the method and lifestyle of nonviolence, it is all the more important that we hear alternative voices to the increasing reliance on violence, alienation and threat power that characterises most foreign policy these days. Once again we must listen to the voices of Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Thich Nhat Hanh, voices for creative nonviolence.

I know a bit about defence, security, and safety, from working for an organisation called Urban Seed. Much of our work takes place just around the corner from here, in Baptist Place, which Urban Seed has called home for about 15 years. Every day we welcome some of the city’s most marginalised people into our homes and lives, mostly through sitting around a lunch table enjoying good food together. We call it Credo Café because it expresses something of what we believe about the world. Those who come for lunch at Credo are largely people whom the average citizen feels threatened by – the homeless, the mentally ill, those with drug and gambling addictions, people who have often led violent lives. In such a place, security becomes particularly important, especially when it is not merely a workplace, but a home. But what we’ve discovered is that safety based in threatening or excluding or hurting others is not safety at all. If security is to be real, it must be mutual.

And so we’ve been experimenting with nonviolence – not a mere refusal to act violently, but a creative, active power that sometimes aggressively and provocatively, but always lovingly, confronts situations of violence or oppression. Nonviolence is transformative of conflict because it does not seek to dominate or threaten the other, but to win them over by confronting them with the injustice of their actions. It is this kind of creative, self-giving love that characterises the safety of Credo, and it’s a safety that extends out into the surrounding neighbourhood. By welcoming people rather than shunning them, by extending active love rather than threats or violence, people are invited to respond in kind. Often we have people over for lunch who might ordinarily feel they have nothing in common, such as lawyers and homeless people, and as they sit around a table together, understanding is fostered, and friendships are formed. Sometimes when they leave Credo, potential enemies have become friends.

What happens on this local level can and should happen on a global level. Unless we extend active love to those we believe threaten us, the cycle of violence will continue.

And so I call on this committee to reject the logic of violence, which yields only bitterness and hatred and further violence, for the creative, powerful force of nonviolence. I call on you to equip our brave defence forces not with more weapons to kill, maim and destroy, but weapons of love that will build our nation into something we can be even more proud of, that will be of benefit to even our enemies. I call on you to transform our army, navy and air force from a domestic defence force to an earth defence force, which takes seriously the greatest threat to our existence, which is not terrorism but global warming. I urge you to stop buying weapons of mass destruction and instead use those billions of dollars to lift those in our own country and overseas out of poverty, to feed, clothe, heal and educate. By demonstrating such love we will have no enemies, no need for defence, and the only real security that exists.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Just when you think it doesn't get any better...

The APDSE (Asia Pacific Defence and Security Expo aka "buy the latest-and-greatest killing machines here" expo) has been cancelled.

News report here (note: the paper was a strong supporter of the arms expo).

OzPeace (key organisers of the planned nonviolent protests) press release here.

And a wonderful analysis provided by one protestor:

Us violent feral low life people armed with our deadly heat seeking loudspeakers must use the night to celebrate.

That all those peace loving people with their toys missiles , cannons, guns, bombers, tanks, frigates etc are not bringing their toys here.

Pace e Bene Oz was involved in the resistance to this expo and was planning a nonviolence expo. I was going to be involved in all of this (I'd planned a nonviolence stall) until we realised we were having a baby about then. Incredible news.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

More on the Garrett/Shoalwater Bay decision

More articles on the decision...apparently it's just the third time the EPBC Act has been successfully used to stop a development...

Here's Peter Garrett's original press release.

Here's the transcript of a Stateline interview about it.

Here's the Brisbane Times' article.


A Courier Mail article which emphasizes how unusual a step this is.

Much of course has been made of the fact that Garrett was one of those involved in stopping the sand mining proposals for Shoalwater Bay.

Could be that Waratah Coal's done us a huge favour here...they've drawn national attention to Shoalwater Bay and its environmental significance, and made the government make clear statements to that effect. Now to capitalise on it!

More info at shoalwaterbay.org.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Nice to have a win once in a while

I spent a day and a bit researching and writing a submission to Peter Garrett under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act against this coal port proposal...

Gotta love a man with a bald head.

Now we just have to get the Army, Navy and Air Force to stop bombing it and everything will be hunky dory.

Peace,
Simon

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Get on board for 09

About Talisman Sabre 09

In June 2007, 30,000 Australian and US troops descended on Shoalwater Bay on the central Queensland coast for a series of live-fire exercises including bombings and invasion tactics. They're planning to do it all again in July 2009. At the same time, a new coal port has been proposed for an area inside the the Shoalwater Bay Training Area.

This is an invitation for you to be involved in planning to stop the Talisman Sabre military exercises in July 2009.

The Melbourne Peace Convergence Collective met recently to talk about what needs to be done between now and July 09 in order to make these exercises less likely to happen. We established two groups:

1. Movement building:
This group decided to focus their attention and energy on getting as many people involved in protesting the military exercises as possible. This will primarily be done through education, public meetings, research and organisation. It would also involve liasing and networking with other peace groups to build a national movement to stop the Talisman Sabre exercises which fuel further wars of aggression, align us with US foreign policy, and are destructive to Australia's ecology and national interest.

2. Strategic Direct Action: The direct action group decided to focus on training and equipping as many people as possible to be as disruptive as possible for as long as possible should all other attempts to stop the exercises fail. This will require both those who are willing risk arrest for nonviolent direct action, and significant support crew (people who can do media, legals, driving, logistics, etc). Ideally we would like this to be a nationally co-ordinated effort with people from every state.

We would therefore like YOU to join us on:
Friday September 5th at 6pm (bring some food to share) at 116 Little Bourke Street (Urban Seed), where both groups will meet to make further plans.

These are likely to be monthly meetings so if you can't make this one, plan to be at the next one. Please forward this invitation on to anyone you think might be interested.

Even if you're not planning to go to Shoalwater Bay in July 09, you're welcome to be part of the planning and organisation process. We will need people in Melbourne involved as well.

For more information on the Talisman Sabre military exercises, go to http://www.peaceconvergence.com.

For questions etc email Kristy at kmhen7@gmail.com or Simon at smoyle@gmail.com, or just come along and find out more on the night.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Duty of Hospitality

Here's one of Peter Maurin's Easy Essays I've been thinking about a lot recently. Lots more can be found on the Catholic Worker website which is a fantastic resource for all things Dorothy and Peter.

The Duty of Hospitality

People who are in need
and are not afraid to beg
give to people not in need
the occasion to do good
for goodness' sake.
Modern society calls the beggar
bum and panhandler
and gives him the bum's rush.
But the Greeks used to say
that people in need
are the ambassadors of the gods.
Although you may be called
bums and panhandlers
you are in fact the Ambassadors of God.
As God's Ambassadors
you should be given food,
clothing and shelter
by those who are able to give it.
Mahometan teachers tell us
that God commands hospitality,
and hospitality is still practiced
in Mahometan countries.
But the duty of hospitality
is neither taught nor practiced
in Christian countries.

the terrifying cost of feeling safer

Cracker of an article here by Ross Gittins in the SMH - on the high cost of so-called defence against terrorism. Great to see this stuff getting a run in the mainstream media which so often panders to the status quo.

Monday, August 04, 2008

ever felt like you've been nailed to a wall?

When Sean O'Reilly was out here he brought a bunch of copies of 'Route Irish', a feature-length essay film on the campaign(s) against Irish facilitation of the US/UK invasion of Iraq, with a focus on Shannon Airport. Towards the end it begins to name where the so-called 'peace movement' went wrong:
I couldn't help but feel sometimes that the millions that had marched in opposition to the war in Iraq in the weeks before the 'shock and awe' bombing of Baghdad had got exactly what they had wanted and then disappeared. The papers in the runup to February 15th seemed for once to help with the plans - happy to help them to blow off some steam - then back to their cheerleading. Part of a generation showed itself on the street everywhere and then went straight back to work, never to reappear. What they had wanted, I surmised, was to create a beautiful, uncomplicated, pleasurable image of themselves as the good ones, the moral ones, the caring ones, the innocent ones. They wanted an image which would either change the world or let them off the hook. An image that would, once and for all, absolve them of further responsibility for a darkening future, an image to wash their hands with.

Were we any different? "Not in my name" was the slogan I remember most from the time. Looking back it sounds for all the world like a get-out clause. It came out of millions of mouth, an each-way bet. I heard it come out of my own mouth, and it did make me feel good at the time. It seemed enough. But how does it compare to, for instance, "over my dead body" or "if you want to get to them you'll have to come through us"? In retrospect it feels like an abdication of responsibility. Our names were surplus to requirements. (bold emphasis mine)
Ouch. Colour me convicted...seems to me that's so often the case for protest movements, that in a country where our names are surplus to requirements we resort to tokenism in order to feel better about ourselves. How can we be serious about peace - saying 'peace, peace,' when there is no peace - if we don't resist war with our very lives? May the rest of my life be closer to "if you want to get to them you'll have to come through us" rather than merely "not in my name"...which reminds me of one of Fr. Dan Berrigan SJ's (many) pearlers:
We have assumed the name of peacemakers, but we have been, by and large, unwilling to pay any significant price. And because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total–but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Scott Parkin again

All the way back in 2005 I wrote a couple of posts (here's one and here's the other) about Scott Parkin, a nonviolent activist deported from Australia for allegedly being a threat to Australia's security. It's one of the most blatant abuses of power our country has seen in recent years (leaving him dubbed Australia's first political prisoner). There's a new video out that tells the story - I highly recommend you take the 15 minutes to hear what happened, and begin to question your assumptions about the just, free society we're supposed to be a part of. Visit here for more information.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Persistent Peace

When John Dear was over here, he specifically asked us to pray for a book he had recently written, but was having difficulty getting published...his autobiography. So I'm more than delighted to say that not only did the publishing come through, but it is due out August 1. Read all about it, including advanced chapters, here.

There is also a possible film in the works over it, so continue to pray that all of that will come through.

Pace e Bene National Gathering

Very disappointed to be missing this, but our baby will be due about a week before, so I'll have to miss it...but get there if you possibly can, it'll be absolutely fantastic.



PACE E BENE Australia GATHERING 2008

‘Engaging Nonviolence – Deep Listening to the Spirit’

Adelaide: Thursday November 6th – Sunday November 9th

An Invitation

To join with others and listen to the spirit as we share the journey of ‘exploring nonviolence’ and how it takes shape in our lives.

Right now we are seeking indications of interest in attending and invite responses via email, post, fax or phone

Text Box: Bob Myers  Pace e Bene Australia 3 Brierly Street Warrnambool  Victoria 3280



Phone and fax (03) 5562 3277

Mob: 0408 541 152

Email: bobmyers@aapt.net.au

Who else could you invite?

Who else do you know who shares the passion for this possibility? Who would wish to journey with the spirituality of active nonviolence? Who could you invite to enrich the gathering with their presence? For more details of the program, see below.

Accommodation venue details

The Monastery Conference and Function Centre

15 Cross Road, Glen Osmond SA 5064 Tel: 08 8379 3681 FAX 08 8379 8751 www.stpauls.mx.com.au

Set in tranquil, picturesque grounds in the Adelaide foothills "The Monastery" is only 10 minutes [5km] from the city centre and 20 minutes from the airport. Car parking is available on site.

Money matters of various kinds

Accommodation: is in single rooms with shared facilities…cost includes all meals from Friday breakfast – Sunday lunch (linen $10 extra).

Single (waged) $290 Single (unwaged) $240

Couple (waged) $550 Couple (unwaged) $420

If you wish to come a day early or stay later, please contact the Monastery direct).

Other conference fees – invitation to contribute

Our commitment is to have the conference accessible to everyone, and our invitation to ourselves is to equalize the costs as much as possible. We suggest an ‘access contribution’ (of what you can afford) from those living in or near Adelaide which would be used to balance out the higher costs of those participants who have to travel further, or who have other financial challenges.

We don’t want anyone to miss out through lack of funding. Remember the possibilities of resources from within your own community or network. Perhaps a parish, workplace or institution would help fundraise to assist with your costs.

There are some funds available to subsidise participation by people who might otherwise be unable to take part. Please let us know your needs.

Draft Programme - Thurs Nov 6th – Sunday Nov 9th

‘Engaging Nonviolence – Deep Listening to the Spirit’

Program outline (so far… do send your ideas, needs and requests!)

Phase 1 Engage with the spirit of the gathering place and with each other
Phase II Engage with deep spirit within self
Phase III Engage with the spirit of our wider communities – going beyond ourselves

THURSDAY 6TH NOV

Evening

Gathering (from 6pm), welcome, settle in, introductions and grounding in place

Dinner informal pizza, nibbles, drinks

Sharing ideas and offers for daily morning prayer ….e.g. meditation, Tai Chi, yoga, other - whatever skills/gifts the group may offer


FRIDAY 7TH NOV

Morning

Morning Prayer – as per last night’s suggestions/offers

Breakfast

Welcome to country
Welcome to each other
and sharing the stories of our individual journeys to here

Lunch

Afternoon

Sharing Our Community Stories and Gifts

(Focus: how have we got to 'here' and what’s going on in our world now...)

· The Pace e Bene story – locally, nationally and internationally

· From Violence to Wholeness, Engage, Travelling With the Turtles….

· Recent stories…among which are: the Solomon Islands; Mainstreaming Nonviolence; Samuel Hill 5; FVTW in Scotland….

· Sharing our Gifts (What are the gifts you wish to offer this gathering given your journey to here?) - sharing skills, knowledge, wisdom, experiences...gathered along the way

· Other possible dicussion areas might include: gender and nonviolence training, rising militarisation in the region, refusal to pay war tax…..plus the contributions you bring of course….?

· Dinner

Evening

Discernment: invitation to one hour of 'noble silence' between 7-8pm

(after dinner) to discern movements within self from the day....

followed by

Sharing the insights between 8-9pm

SATURDAY 8TH NOV

Morning

Morning prayer - as Friday
Breakfast

Sharing our Gifts continues (What are the gifts you wish to offer this gathering

given your journey to here?)
Sharing skills, knowledge, wisdom, experiences...gathered along the way

Lunch

Afternoon

Discernment: Invitation to one hour of 'noble silence [after lunch] 2-3pm discern movements within self from the day....followed by

Gathering to share insights/further skills and other discernment


Evening

Dinner

“Celebration….”

SUNDAY 9TH NOV

Morning

Morning prayeras Friday..

Breakfast

Where do we go from here- Open space

2 sessions before Lunch

Sunday Lunch

Afternoon:

Closing Circle, Ritual and Departure (3pm)


MONDAY 10th Nov – optional - Pace e Bene Australia AGM

TUESDAY 11th – THURSDAY 13th Nov - optional – APDS – Arms Expo NV Action

Pace e Bene Australia intends to provide an alternative ‘nonviolent marketplace’ in Adelaide during this weapons bazaar. We will keep you informed about how this initiative develops and invite active participation by our friends and supporters around the country. There will be a variety of ways to be involved, whether by being present in Adelaide or by creating solidarity activities in your own community.

Raytheon 9 acquitted!

On 11 June 2008, by a unanimous verdict of the jury, the Raytheon 9 were found not guilty of three counts of criminal damage at the Raytheon offices, Derry Northern Ireland on 9 August 2006.

Immediately afterwards, the defendants addressed supporters and press outside Belfast’s Laganside Court. Colm Bryce began:
The Raytheon 9 have been aquitted today in Belfast for their action in decommissioning the Raytheon offices in Derry in August 2006. The prosecution could produce not a shred of evidence to counter our case that we had acted to prevent the commission of war crimes during the Lebanon war by the Israeli armed forces using weapons supplied by Raytheon.

We remain proud of the action we took and only wish that we could have done more to disrupt the ‘kill chain’ that Raytheon controls.

This victory is welcome, for ourselves and our families, but we wish to dedicate it to the Shaloub and Hasheem families of Qana in Lebanon, who lost 28 of their closest relatives on the 30 July 2006 due to a Raytheon ‘bunker buster’ bomb.

Their unimaginable loss was foremost in our minds when we took the action we did on 9 August, and the injustice that they and the many thousands of victims of war crimes in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered, will spur us on to continue to campaign against war and the arms trade that profits from it.

We said from the beginning that we came to this court not as the accused but as the accusers of Raytheon. This court case proved that Raytheon in Derry is an integral part of the global Raytheon company and its military production. This is no longer a secret or in doubt. Raytheon have treated the truth, peaceful protest, local democracy and this court with complete contempt. The most senior executive who appeared said that the charge that Raytheon had ‘aided and abetted’ the commission of crimes against humanity was “not an issue” for him. Raytheon should have that contempt repaid in full and be driven out of Derry and every other place they have settled. They are war criminals, plain and simple. They have no place in our society and shame on all those in positions of power or influence who would hand them public funds, turn a blind eye to their crimes, cover their tracks or make excuses for them.

These crimes continue daily and hourly in the Middle East. It is up to those of us who oppose those wars of domination and occupation to build a movement that matches the enormity of what is being done by Western governments. We hope that this victory gives courage and heart to all those involved in that movement and the many more who need to be for us to achieve our aim of stopping these wars. Until then, the very least we can do, to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Middle East is to dissociate ourselves from the corrupt governments of the US and Britain. That means opposing the visit to Belfast of the world’s biggest war criminal, George W Bush on 16 June.

We feel totally vindicated by this decision and wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of those who gave us support, especially to our families and friends, to the members of the Derry Anti War Coalition and the Irish Anti-War Movement , to our excellent legal teams. Of course, we particularly want to thank the jury who listened intently through three weeks of evidence before ensuring that justice was done today.

Friday, May 23, 2008

hope, despair and Lions For Lambs

Here’s a letter I penned soon after our recent court appearance for disrupting the Talisman Sabre military exercises last year (reflections here), but never sent.

Dear friends,

I’m sitting here having just finished watching Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, and Robert Redford in Lions For Lambs, and thinking about the despair that pervades the US and so many of us about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And as I think about this in light of events in my own life in the past year, I thought it might be worth sharing these reflections with you about hope, resistance and Christian discipleship in the midst of despair.

Despair is far too easy; more than that, it’s a luxury for those of us in the First World, sitting comfortably in our homes lit by energy saving bulbs watching the horrors unfold in front of us. We can pontificate as to whether we believe this war is about oil, or about democracy; about ridding the world of an evil dictator, or weapons of mass destruction, or about establishing US bases in the Middle East…or maybe all of the above. Conversations about the arrogance of America, or about its greed, or even Australia’s complicity become nauseating. Putting our faith in democracy, or in policy, or in the law to be able to work it all out is futile; worse, it’s idolatry. In the end it all adds up to empire. And really it doesn’t matter which empire – it could be Rome, it could be the United States of America, or (who knows?) in a few years maybe China. It really doesn’t matter. What matters, for those of us who put our faith in Christ, is where we sit in such moments of time. How do we follow Jesus? Where was he found?

Hanging from a cross, it would seem, in the midst of empire, damned by all for the sake of maintaining the status quo. As happens so often in history, having sat with the victims of empire, he became one. And he calls us to do the same; to deny ourselves – our privilege, our position, our power – take up our cross, and follow him.

And so it comes down to this: discipleship is about where we sit. Or as Phil Berrigan once put it, somewhat more crudely (but I think more accurately), “Hope is where your ass is.” Do we sit with the victims of empire, or with its powerbrokers? Do we sit in the prisons, the courtrooms, the homeless shelters, amongst others whom our society have marginalised or rejected? Or do we sit in the imperial courtyards of power, and, like Peter, deny the suffering and tortured Christ because of our presence there?

I am left from our time in court last week with one question; not was this the right thing to do, but (like my good friend and co-defendant Sarah) why not more? How can I go about my daily business with the occasional nod to war resistance when people are being murdered in my name while I sleep? As Dan Berrigan says, “We have assumed the name of peacemakers, but we have been, by and large, unwilling to pay any significant price. And because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total–but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial.” If despair is cheap, resistance in the West is an absolute bargain. Six months’ good behaviour bond is an encouragement to go back for more.

I particularly want to thank those of you who supported us – whether you wrote letters or references, prayed, planted trees or played frisbee with a friend, stranger or enemy; your solidarity made this easier for us, particularly because as Wink says, “history belongs to the intercessors”. May those of us tempted by despair feel ourselves drawn to the invitation to audacious hope that is the good news of Jesus Christ.

Blessings of peace,
Simon

The Samuel Hill 5 experiment (or, Reflections of a Newbie)

I find Gandhi’s reference to nonviolent action as “experiments with truth” very useful. This has been very much an experiment for me, one that has undoubtedly confirmed my inklings towards nonviolence as the way of discipleship of Jesus, and also as a powerful force for love and truth in the world. What follows are some reflections on the Samuel Hill 5 action as an experiment. It is not a critique of nor reflections on the Peace Convergence as a whole, nor on overall strategy for resistance to Operation Talisman Sabre 07, but are focussed particularly on our action itself. I trust they will be useful in the ongoing conversation in nonviolence and faith circles.

* Choosing stories and storying choices: Perhaps the first and most important point to come out of this action is (to borrow Ched Myers’ phrase) the importance of choosing our stories and storying our choices. We in the West suffer from a crippling lack of imagination, mostly as a result of a dearth of alternative stories to that of the empire in whose shadow we sit. Those who sit in the dominant story mostly find themselves with little room within it to make changes, little room to act or be empowered or see alternatives. I, however, have chosen the Christian gospel as my formative story (or perhaps more accurately it has chosen me) and as a result I will spend the rest of my life immersing myself in it and being shaped by it. It is a story that is deeply subversive and antithetical to the story of empire, despite the ways it has been abused throughout history, and as such it forms the perfect counter to it.

At all stages it was the gospel story that gave us the overarching metanarrative from which to make sense of our actions and others’ reactions to them. This gave us an energy, a courage and a stability that would not have otherwise been possible. Stories such as the temple cleansing and the Gerasene demoniac suddenly leapt off the page and into animated real life. No longer were they mere stories; they were our stories, not merely in some modernist abstract sense of being factual, but in the sense that we had known them, and they had known us, in the biblical sense.

There often seems to be an uncanny connection between current events and the lectionary readings, and the time of our trial was no different. With John 14:16 declaring, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate [defence counsel] to be with you forever…” and 1 Peter 3:11’s “seek peace and pursue it,” it was clear that we were in the right place. In fact, the whole 1 Peter 3 section was appropriate – from “do not repay evil for evil, but on the contrary, repay evil with a blessing” [the heart of the Sermon on the Mount] to verses 13-17: “Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God's will, than to suffer for doing evil.”

As we prayed the Lord’s Prayer together, phrases like “your Kingdom come” took on new meaning. “Forgive us our trespasses,” also took on a new and amusing meaning.

At the same time, the gospel equipped us to tell our story, particularly as an alternative to the dominant story, in a way that engaged people, made sense of what happened, and extended an invitation to join in.

* Humour as subversion: Our action has also highlighted for me the importance of fun and humour in gaining wider public understanding and bridging the gap between the mainstream punter and the hardened activist. While at no stage did we want to be flippant or deny the seriousness of that which we were resisting, there was something undeniably engaging about playing frisbee with military personnel. The ridiculousness of the image seemed to crack wide open the stereotype of the overearnest, angry, dour faced protestor that pervades much of society. There is something both safely harmless and engaging and yet simultaneously deeply and dangerously subversive about humour (as frequently demonstrated by The Chaser team and Jesus Christ).

* Strategy:
What we did was successful on several levels:

a. We stopped the war games, albeit temporarily, as evidenced by tanks and other equipment at a standstill, the total shutdown of Samuel Hill Air Base, and the signage indicating the deliberate cessation of live firing (rather than its absence).
b. We gained entry to the base with minimal effort, minimal risk of danger to ourselves or others, and using minimal resources. In fact, it was ridiculously easy.
c. We engaged the troops in respectful face-to-face dialogue on a personal level, had some significant conversations and gained valuable insights.
d. Our action strategically bolstered that of other groups, specifically by drawing attention to the presence of civilians on the base in a way that could no longer be denied by defence personnel.

What we could have done better:

a. Primarily I think research in general would have helped – knowing the terrain is important, more orienteering training would help, know more about the exercises, the equipment used, etc.
b. Strategic legals: Next time I would give much more strategic thought to the legal aspects of the action to maximise the ongoing effects. While I think we did the best we could with what we had (namely a very very inexperienced and naïve bunch of self-represented young people!), had we thought more strategically about the laws around it we may have been able to further our impact on the system. In this case our original intention was to do the action the way we wanted and then plead guilty; we changed our minds on a guilty plea only sometimes afterwards when we realised there was no way we could conscienably call ourselves guilty for what we did (under any definition, legal or otherwise). We were then able to subequently put together a pretty solid case. However in future, where possible, I would ideally tailor the action to suit legals in a similar way to the Pine Gap 4. Priority should still always go towards faithful action over legal issues, but where possible maximising strategic impact in the court process should be important, particularly to ensuring integrity when pleading not guilty.

* Empowerment: As a privileged, educated, middle class person (a group who generally have the most to lose from civil disobedience, and therefore rarely engage in it) this has given me a sense of empowerment beyond my expectations. Crossing the line unafraid and without any real consequences has opened a whole new realm of possibilities for creative action that is both effective and affective. It’s a signal to those who attempt to hold power over me that I will not comply, I will not remain silent even when others do. Phil Berrigan has said of voting, “If it made any difference, it’d be illegal,” and I’d have to agree – voting is at the very least a blunt instrument for social change. It also indicates, I think, that actions that do make a difference tend to be illegal because that’s the way empire stacks the deck (as Ciaron O’Reilly often says, “Good lawmaking comes from good lawbreaking”). Which is not to say that an action’s being illegal is sufficient for it to change anything (let alone for the positive), but it’s potentially indicative.

* Importance of small, independent affinity groups
The action has confirmed for me the strength of small affinity groups, particularly when they are supported by strong intentional communities or solidarity networks. The ability to organise quickly and independently, with minimal resources and to do so sustainably with the long haul in mind, has clearly given us a strength of resolve that would not have been possible in its absence. The Christian Activist Network has functioned effectively in this regard for solidarity, training, and support, as have our respective faith communities.

* Stepping stone
Finally, after court proceedings have finished, I am left with a sense of humility and proportion, particularly in the sense that these particular actions didn’t risk very much. Probably for our first action, particularly as people who have emerged from Australia’s middle class and are (in Simon Reeves’ words, I think borrowed from Jarrod McKenna) “in rehab from consumerism” we needed to begin at this level. I remain, however, acutely aware that, as Sarah said to the judge in her closing statements, “I won’t regret having done this, but rather I regret that am not doing more to resist war and oppression.” In that sense, I think we can see this as a stepping stone to further action.

More info can be found at http://samuelhill5.blogspot.com.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Raytheon 9 and other nonviolence news

Send these guys a note of encouragement if you can as they face court next Monday over their actions from almost 2 years ago (9th August 2006) in interfering with Raytheon's death-dealing. Anzac Day this year saw some more local action at the Raytheon offices in Brisbane also as Jim Dowling, Lisa Bridle and Sean O'Reilly staged a sit-in.

And in related nonviolence news (it's all happening at the moment), there's been another ANZAC ploughshares action in New Zealand while we were away in Yeppoon. More info here.

hey monkey where you been?

I've been rather busy the last month or so. Check here and here for why.

Monday, April 14, 2008

for your (or my?) reference

So I'm not sure if anyone still reads this, but I thought I'd put a general request out to anyone to write a letter in support of me and the Samuel Hill 5's actions as I front the Yeppoon Magistrates Court in a week and a bit.

We'd ideally like to plonk a whole bunch of letters down in front of the judge, from a wide cross section of the community, saying that they support us and the action we took to stop these games.

This is one way you can have a say to the court system and the government about your opposition to war and violence.

Send it to samuelhill4@gmail.com by Friday 18th April and we'll make sure it reaches the trial judge. Many thanks.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Nelson

I love ambiguous statements by politicians. Especially this one by Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson, who is on a single digit approval rating at present.

Today's Age headline: "Nelson: I'm going nowhere"

I think what he meant to say is "I'm not leaving the leadership of the party" but what he actually said is much more accurate.

With frank honesty like that, it's no wonder he's not doing so well.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

the new beast

Huzzah for insurance!



Friday, March 28, 2008

"sea of pink" - nonviolent solidarity

Got the link to this story today in my inbox - an impressive little story about how a simple act of solidarity can be so powerful and transformative.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

my bike was stolen :(

and before you ask, yes, it was locked up. I was inside a shop helping a friend renovate for an hour and a half, and when I returned, it was gone. including my helmet and everything.

I hope they enjoy it...it was a great (new) bike.

Friday, February 22, 2008

just another reason to love the peace tree crew

Vines and fig trees.

Micah 4
1. In days to come
the mountain of the Lord's house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
2. and many nations shall come and say:
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths."
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
3. He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
4. but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
5. For all the peoples walk,
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
forever and ever.

oh. my. goodness.

Un. be. lievable.

Pine gap protesters' conviction quashed

Four anti-war protesters who broke into the Pine Gap spy base have had their convictions quashed by a Northern Territory court.

Donna Mulhearn, 39, Tim Dowling, 52, Adele Goldie, 31, and Bryan Law, 52, were the first Australians to be charged under the 1952 Defence (Special Undertaking) Act (DSU Act).

The four protesters - from the Group Christians Against All Terrorism - were found guilty of using bolt cutters on a high security fence and entering the secret spy base near Alice Springs in 2005.

They were convicted last June and together were fined more than $3,000. They had faced a maximum prison sentence of seven years each.

The Commonwealth DPP applied against what it said was the leniency of the sentence while the defendants appealed their convictions.

In the NT court of Criminal Appeal in Darwin on Friday, the full bench unanimously acquitted all four defendants of their conviction under the DSU Act.

Chief Justice Brian Martin said the full bench also declined to order a retrial.

The court will publish its reasons at a later date.

The four are still convicted of minor charges under the criminal code including damaging commonwealth property.

Outside the court, Mr Law said he had been entitled to call evidence during his trial about the role of the defence facility.

He said the commonwealth had tried to punish the protesters for a peaceful "expression of conscience".

"This court has found that is unjust, a miscarriage of justice and we are within our rights to challenge the existence of Pine Gap," he told reporters.

"We are completely vindicated and very happy.

"Pine Gap is not a base for the defence of Australia, Pine Gap is an instrument of international aggression."

Ms Mulhearn said there had been a misuse of the DSU Act.

"It's a draconian act and it was an extremist move that the act be used against us," she said.

"It means the federal government will have to look at the Defence (special undertakings) Act and the application it has now for any other activists who want to participate in non-violent civil disobedience at Pine Gap."

(I must admit I giggled at the 'Tim Dowling' bit...)

Friday, February 15, 2008

wendell berry on industrial sex

After seeing this article in today's Age, my mind immediately went to this quote of Wendell Berry from Feminism, The Body And The Machine. I suspect when he wrote it (1989), it was intended as more wry overstatement than prediction, but there it is.
It is odd that simply because of its "sexual freedom" our time should be considered extraordinarily physical. In fact, our "sexual revolution" is mostly an industrial phenomenon, in which the body is used as a idea of pleasure or a pleasure machine with the aim of "freeing" natural pleasure from natural consequence.

Like any other industrial enterprise, industrial sexuality seeks to conquer nature by exploiting it and ignoring the consequences, by denying any connection between nature and spirit or body and soul, and by evading social responsibility. The spiritual, physical, and economic costs of this "freedom" are immense, and are characteristically belittled or ignored. The diseases of sexual irresponsibility are regarded as a technological problem and an affront to liberty.

Industrial sex, characteristically, establishes its freeness and goodness by an industrial accounting, dutifully toting up numbers of sexual partners, orgasms, and so on, with the inevitable industrial implication that the body is somehow a limit on the idea of sex, which will be a great deal more abundant as soon as it can be done by robots.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

st francis I ain't


I ran over a bird today. no, not in the car. on my bike. you heard right.

so I'm riding to work along Lygon St in peak hour traffic and as I try to avoid the mirrors of the cars that are crawling along, I see this myna (like the one pictured above) hop out of the path of one car. unfortunately, it hopped into my path. I had nowhere to go - parked cars to my left and traffic to my right, and only a couple of feet in between. I assume it sees me - birds always move when there's something coming at them, right? so I watch it as I approach. and I watch. thinking it will move I wait until the last moment before I swerve out of its way, only to have it try to jump out of my way...

but we both moved the same way.

I can still feel the sensation of it getting caught in the grip of my front tyre and getting pulled under.

it was all over in a split second, of course. and it survived the incident - or I assume it did. after one wheel went over it, it flew away - toward the cemetary admittedly, but it did fly away from the scene, and without so much as exchanging phone numbers.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

that's more like it

My new zuccini harvest. No more trick photography needed.


Friday, February 01, 2008

finally...some good news for JD

Received this from John Dear...absolutely delighted for him, especially in the week he was called a "renegade priest and a renegade citizen" and a "phoney" by the judge at his sentencing. It's almost a year since we hung out here in Melbourne, and what a year. John's been really supportive of me personally through that time. Continue to pray for him.
Dear friends, I'm sharing with you this amazing letter I just received which Archbishop Tutu sent to Norway!

Keep me in your prayers! Peace, John

* * * * * *

In support of The Reverend Father John Dear, S.J. : Nobel Peace Prize 2008

Dr Leo Rebello, World Peace Envoy from Bombay, India and Dr Charles Mercieca, President of International Association of Educators for World Peace, USA have nominated the Reverend Father John Dear, SJ for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. I commend Father Dear to you and support his nomination.

Fr John Dear is a Jesuit priest who has been in the forefront of the religious peace movement in the United States. He is the embodiment of a peacemaker. He has led by example through his actions and in his writings and in numerous sermons, speeches and demonstrations. He believes that peace is not something static, but rather to make peace is to be engaged, mind, body and spirit. His teaching is to love yourself, to love your neighbor, your enemy, and to love the world and to understand the profound responsibility in doing all of these.

He is a man who has the courage of his convictions and who speaks out and acts against war, the manufacture of weapons and any situation where a human being might be at risk through violence. Fr John Dear has studied and follows the teachings of non-violence as espoused by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., he serves the homeless and the marginalized and sees each person as being of infinite worth. I would hope that were he to receive this honor his teachings and activities might become more widely accepted and adopted. The world would undoubtedly become a better and more peaceful place if this were to happen.

For evil to prevail requires only that good people sit on the sidelines and do nothing. Fr John Dear is compelling all of us to stand up and take responsibility for the suffering of humanity so often caused through selfishness and greed. I hope you will consider his nomination favorably.

God bless you
Archbishop Desmond Tutu