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

For questions etc email Kristy at or Simon at, 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.