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Uniting for Peace social media

Marcus Braybrooke – 4th December, 2013

Race, Faith and World Peace event


 
Uniting for Peace


 Thank you for inviting me to this significant gathering and an especial thanks to Vijay and Brian and others involved in arranging it for all they do for peace. As I was starting to write this talk, the postman arrived with an unexpected parcel. I opened it – it was a new novel called And then Came Peace.

 

I wish it was true, just a month ago I was at a meeting in Amman to see what interfaith organisations could do to help bring peace to Syria. How I wish the conclusion had been ‘And then came peace’. In fact, the Geneva Two talks which we hoped would have been in November are now postponed till late January – allowing two more months of killing. The locals appreciated outside support and the international participants agreed to press for reforms at the UN so that it responds more urgently to prevent potential genocides: but …

 

Yet I do believe that people of faith acting together can make a real contribution to peace: in three main ways:

  1. In helping to prevent violence and war – what I call peace-building.
  2. Helping to end conflict
  3. Healing the scars of war.

 

But first we have repudiate the use of religion to justify violence. One of the killers of Lee Rigby claimed that God told him to do it. We have to say again and again that a crime committed in the name of God is always a crime against God - as religious leaders of all religions have said again and again in the last few years. And we need to support each other in the struggle against those who pervert religion for evil purposes and in counteracting the tendency in the media and public opinion to judge a religion by its extremists. (As we have seen the majority of members of the Church of England want women bishops)

 

Even so, although I do not think religion causes war, it may enflame passions and embitter the conflict. This is because religion is closely related to identity – and if our identity is threatened we may feel we are defending God’s interest as well as our own.

 

A year after 9/11 Frank Griswold, then Presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, said those terrible events should make Americans asks what it means to be a nation ‘under God’- part of the pledge of allegiance  - ‘For example, why are we perceived with such hatred in many places around the globe? How have some of our ways of being contributed to hardship and poverty, and subsequent rage in other parts of the world.’ And the meeting in Amman made me aware that intervention that we in the West see as in defence of human rights is viewed with far more suspicion in the areas involved as the pursuit of power and oil.  There is much to be done to regain trust between nations and interfaith organisations can help with this.

 

 Creating a Culture of Peace

We need also to help create a culture of peace.  This is a multifaceted task and I can only mention some aspects as headlines.

Over the last hundred years interfaith organisations – national and local - have done significant work in transforming the attitude of members of one faith community to members of other faiths. This work is primarily educational, seeking to remove ignorance and prejudice and encouraging people to make friends with members of other faiths.  Schools and colleges and the media have helped people learn about other traditions and taste other foods. Great number of such getting to know you events in the recent National Interfaith Week

 

We should also try to dispel the glamour from war and highlight its realities.  The importance of peace-education from an early age needs to be more widely recognised. This includes getting rid of war toys and war-games.

 

Religions also have an important role in shaping public opinion and campaigning to remove the causes of conflict The Pope at the Day of Prayer in Assisi in 1986 told his fellow leaders, ‘We are the moral conscience of human kind.’ It is a conscience that needs to speak more loudly and with greater authority and a welcome development was the opening last November an International Centre for Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue, backed by the governments of Austria, Spain, and Saudi Arabia was opened in Vienna.

 

Let me give two examples of such campaigning

 

Did any of you take part in World Toilet Day on November 19th? The aim of the day was to draw attention to the shocking fact that one in three people in the world do not have access to a toilet – and I need not elaborate on the threat to health that this causes.

Safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene should be a basic human right and World Toilet Day was linked to the launch at the UNICEF headquarters in New York of WASH – The new Global Interfaith Alliance for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene convened by my good friend Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp and Swami Chidanand Saraswati.

 

Another example is campaigning to restrict the trade in arms. The Syrian conflict as we know has been fuelled by arms sent to the rival combatants from many parts of the world. We need to urge governments to become signatories to the Arms Trade Treaty, which the General Assembly of the UN adopted on 2 April 2013. The treaty regulates the international trade in conventional arms, from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships. The treaty will put a stop to destabilizing arms flows to conflict regions and will prevent human rights abusers and violators of the law of war from being supplied with arms. And it will help to stop warlords, pirates, and gangs from acquiring these deadly tools.

Yet although 108 states have signed the Treaty, at the time of writing only eight have ratified it (only Iceland from Europe) and it needs 50 signatories to come into force.  

 

Practical Work

Religions are also rooted in local communities. UN special agencies are now recognising this and also the big contribution that faith communities are making to educational and developmental work. More than half of the educational and health-care provision in the world is provided by faith-based agencies. Too often UN agencies have been remote and their programmes did not meet local needs whereas religions have a strong local base. Increasing partnership.

 

During Conflict

While faith communities can play an important role in reducing the likelihood of conflict, as I have suggested, it is less obvious what they can do when conflict is actually raging. They can call for restraint; Spiritual Leaders can urge people not to demonize the enemy. Sometimes people of faith can act as peace messengers or can be intermediaries in the preliminaries necessary to start formal peace talks. There is also a growing expertise in conflict resolution. People of faith are also active in medical and relief work to help the victims of war.

 

After war: ‘Healing the Wounds of Conflict.’

 When hostilities end, there is an enormous amount of work in continuing to care for those who have been injured or bereaved or rendered homeless by the conflict. Millions of people are refugees because of war. People of all faiths are actively involved in healing the wounds and heartache of the victims of violence and sowing the seeds of a better future.

 

Practical help is vital, but equally important are efforts to help divided communities to free themselves from the bitterness of the past and to seek reconciliation. Without this, so-called ‘peace agreements’ are superficial and short lived. The various Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are important but so also are faith communities in helping individuals to let go their hatred.

 

Mufti Camdzic, whose beautiful mosque in Banja Luka was destroyed during the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia has said “We can’t forget; but we try to forgive and reconcile, to build again.”

 

When I was in South Africa in 1999, I met with some people who had been dispossessed when District Six, a vibrant multi-racial community in the heart of Cape Town, was bulldozed under the apartheid regime. I don’t think they knew about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but when I asked two of the coloured women what they felt about their oppressors. ‘We must forgive them’ they said, ‘because Jesus forgives’.

 

Forgiveness is vital, but a sense of our shared humanity is also essential.

In the very first chapter of the Bible, God says, ‘Let us make human beings in our own image.’ This fundamental belief that every person is in the image of God is for me the basis for all work to promote human rights. If I needed a text I would take the verse ‘The great God, who is free of favouritism  … loves the stranger and gives him food and clothing.’ (Dt 10. 18). I could give examples from many other scriptures, let  me just mention the moving story of Bhai Kanhaiya – the Sikh water carrier who, after a battle, gave water to wounded Muslims as well as wounded Sikhs. When he was taken before the Guru, he said, ‘I saw no Muslim or Sikh on the battlefield. When I looked into the eyes of anyone in need I could not distinguish between them, I saw only the light of the One Creator which shined forth from every soul.’ The Guru commended him and gave him some ointment for the Muslim as well as the Sikh soldiers’ wounds.

 

The Spiritual Roots of Peace

 This sense of our common humanity, at its deepest, flows from a mystical experience of ‘Oneness.’ This is why the growth in inner peace is a vital contribution to the peace of the world and why the roots of lasting peace are to be found in the great religious and spiritual traditions of the world. The Mayan spiritual leader, Abraham Garcia, who was tortured in the civil war in Guatemala, has said, ‘Peace isn’t the simple silencing of the bullets. It must be an inner change toward other people, respect for the way they think and live.’

 

Speaking of being possessed 'by the flood of Being,' Kathleen de Beaumont, one of the wise women of the World Congress of Faiths when I joined it in the 1960s, said that 'in the great Unity, we are members one of another.'

 

For some of us, it is our particular religious path that leads us beyond it. As the distinguished Protestant theologian Paul Tillich said, 'In the depth of every religion there is a point at which religion itself loses its importance, and that to which it points breaks through its particularity, elevating it to spiritual freedom and to a vision of the spiritual presence in other expressions of the ultimate meaning of human existence.'

 

For many people who would describe themselves as spiritual, I recognise, that organized religions may be a road-block rather than a path.  What is really important is that those who have been touched by the Universal Spirit are in communion with each other and help others to recognise such experience in their own lives.

 

Let me just outline a little more of what I mean by this sense of Oneness.

Seventeen years before Thomas Merton - a popular guru of the seventies - became a monk, he was shopping in the centre of Louisville. ‘I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers... There is no way of telling people that they are walking around shining like the sun...' Do you feel like that when you are queuing to go through security?

 

It was a similar experience that inspired Sir Francis Youghusband who founded the World Congress of Faiths in 1936. In 1903 he led a tragic mission to Tibet - and we now own the Bible he took with him. After agreeing a treaty with the Tibetan leaders, the next day by himself, Younghusband climbed a mountain near Lhasa. ‘Exaltation thrilled through me with overpowering intensity. I was beside myself with untellable joy. I felt in touch with the flaming heart of the world. What was glowing in all creation and in every single human being was a joy far beyond mere goodness. A mighty joy-giving power was at work in the world.'

 

Mother Julian of Norwich spoke of this same sense of all-embracing love: ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’ Rumi, the great Sufi mystic sang,

The religion of love is apart from all religions:

For lovers (the only) religion and creed is God.

Jesus himself spoke of a time when 'true worshippers would worship God in spirit and in truth.'

 

This sense of Oneness inspires a deep concern for others. Thomas Merton, in describing his Louisville experience, went on, ''There are no strangers... If only we could see each other (as we really are) all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed.'  Francis Younghusband continued Lhasa account by saying, 'Never again could I think evil. Never again could I bear enmity. Joy had begotten love.'

 

To sense the Oneness of God, the oneness of the human family, the oneness of all life is the well spring of compassion and our commitment to human rights, peace building, non-violence, revrence for all life. Without such a starting point I feel these good causes are impoverished.

 

Hope

 Finally faiths, in their festivals of light, offer us hope that a better world is possible because it is God’s promise, as I was reminded at a joint Christmas and Hanukka celebration in Oxford yesterday .

 

Let me end by reading from a Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou called ‘Amazing Peace.’

‘We Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come

Peace

Come and fill us and our world with your majesty

We Jew and Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,

Implore you to stay awhile with us

So we may learn by your shimmering light

How to look beyond complexion and see community…

 

We , Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers,

Look heavenward and speak the word aloud

Peace

We look at our world and speak the word aloud

Peace

We look at each other, then into ourselves,

And say without shyness or apology or hesitation

Peace, My Brother

Peace, My Sister

Peace, My Soul.

 

Shall we say to each other: ‘Peace my Sister, Peace My Brother’

  Ibid, p. 316

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2014 Events

5 - 7
Jan

Towards a Nonviolent Future: Seeking Realistic Models for Peaceful Co-existence and Sustainablity organised by Anuvrat Global Organisation (Anuvibha)
Jaipur, India

Anuvibha Jaipur Kendra, Opposite Gaurav Tower, Malviya Nagar, Jaipur, India

Contact:
S L Gandhi
slgandhi@hotmail.com

View leaflet


29
Mar

Spring Conference and AGM 2014

UK's Ethical Foreign Policy - After No War on Syria can soft power prevail ?

Saturday 29 March

Time: 10.30 am - 4.30 pm


Venue: Wesley’s Chapel
49 City Road
London EC1Y 1AU

Contact: info@unitingforpeace.com

 


2013 Past Events

04
Dec

Race, Faith and World Peace

Time: 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm

Venue: Hilton London Euston
17-18 Upper Woburn Palace
London WC1H 0HT

Distinguished speakers:

Contact:
Vijay Mehta - vijay@vmpeace.org
0207 377 2111

Brain Cooper: 0131 446 9545

View leaflet


02
Dec

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion organised by The Grimshaw Club.

Time: 6.30 pm - 8.00 pm

Venue: London School of Economics, The LSESU Grimshaw International Relations Club, Clement House 2.02

Contact: Valerie Tang
E-mail: V.W.Tang@lse.ac.uk

View Flyer


25
Nov

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion organised by UNA Gloucestershire County & Quaker Peace Group

Time: 7.30 pm - 9.30 pm

Venue: Cheltenham Friends Meeting House, Cheltenham Gloucestershire

Contact: Christopher Dickenson,
+44 (0)1242 870260, Alison Crane sowsider@yahoo.co.uk

View leaflet


21
Nov

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion hosted by DEVsoc and PSI society

Time: 7.00 pm

Venue: Arts 01.02 (a lecture theatre) on UEA (University of East Anglia) campus, Norwich Research Park, Norwich

Contact: Louisa Fenwick
Louisa.Fenwick@uea.ac.uk


20
Nov

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion hosted by Tavistock Peace Action Group

Time: 19:30 Start

Venue: Tavistock United Reformed Church, Russell St, Tavistock
Devon PL19 8BD

Contact: Ginny Davies
z200@onetel.com

View leaflet


14
Nov

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion organised by London Metropolitian University

Time: 2 - 4 pm

Venue: Calcutta House, CM4-2 Old Castle Street, E1 7NT

Contact: Please contact Tiffany at: munlondonmet@gmail.com


13 - 25
Nov

UNA Westminister Hosting Film Festival

Time, venue details and synopses
www.wethepeoples.org.uk

View Flyer

For further details contact:
David Wardrop, e-mail: davidwardrop@bulldoghome.com


13
Nov

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion organised by The York University Green Party

Time: 18:30 Start

Speaker: Vijay Mehta, Author of the Economics of killing

Venue: V/N/123 Vanbrugh College, University of York, Heslington, York, North Yorkshire, YO10 5DD

Contact: Alfie Van den Bos - politics@theyorker.co.uk


12
Nov

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion organised by RUHL, Diplomatic Society

Time: 18:00 start

Speaker: Vijay Mehta, Author of the Economics of killing

Venue: Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey (Room to be decided, please email Maria for details)

Contact: Maria Rodriguez Schaap - dipsoc@gmail.com


07
Nov

Unting for Peace Annual Conference The Real Agenda: Syria, Mali and DRC - Terrorism, or Resource Wars ?

View leaflet


05
Nov

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion organised by Schumacher College

20:00 start

Schumacher College, The Old Postern, Dartington Hall, Totnes, TQ9 6EA

For more details about the Spiritual Activism course - sustaining the path of non-violence click here


03
Nov

Peace Service 2013

Time: 3 pm

Address: Dover Unitarian Church,
Adrian Street, Dover, CT17 9AT

Led by Andreas Weisner Uniting for Peace

Contact: Andreas Weisner,
01227 637135,
Mobile: 07960 684 758

Email: andreas.weisner@talktalk.net


24
Oct

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion organised by: Philosophy Politics and Economics, University of Oxford

Time: 7.30 pm - 9.30 pm

Speaker: Vijay Mehta, Author of the Economics of killing

Venue: Corpus Christi Auditorium, Merton Street, Oxford OX1 4JF

Contact: Eve McQuillian - eve.mcquillian@some.ox.ac.uk


16
Oct

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion by Cambridge Hub
Cambridge, UK

View Leaflet


08
Oct

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion organised by Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

19:00 Start

Venue: Wellington Church Library, 77 South Park Avenue, Glassgow, G12 8LE

Contact: Flavia T
e-mail: flavia@banthebomb.org

View flyer


 

02
Oct


The Economics of Killing Book Discussion organised by Queen Mary University and Medact
London, UK

18:00 - 19:30

Morris Lecture Theatre
Robin Brooke Centre
Barts Hospital West Smithfield
London EC1A 7BE

Contact:
David McCoy
d.mccoy@ucl.ac.uk


 

October / November

Quakers in York
Talking of Peace

View leaflet


28
September

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion hosted by UNA Lymington
UK

View leaflet


 

26
September

Concord College and UNA Shropshire welcomes you to a book discussion on Vijay Mehta’s latest book: The Economics of Killing

View leaflet


 

22
September

Sunday Lecture: The Economics of Killing 11:00

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents Sunday Lecture: The Economics of Killing - Vijay Mehta

Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

View full information


 

21 - 22
September

UNITING for PEACE - September Peace Days 2013

UN Peace Day September 21 - Peacemaking Sunday September 22

View leaflet


 

20 - 21
September


The Peace & Anti-War
Movement on the eve of the first world war - lessons for
today

Friends Meeting House, Mount Street. Manchester, UK

View leaflet


20
September

CANCELLED

Due to unavoidable circumstances the Annual Erskine Childers lecture 2013 has been cancelled.

The Series of Annual Erskine Childers lecture for 2014 will continue.

Uniting for Peace apologises for any inconvenience

2013 Annual Erskine Childers lecture, United Nations and European Union - can they work together for peace, democracy and rule of law ?
Hilton, London


 

17
September

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion organised by London Campaign Against Arms Trade

6.30pm start

London CAAT,
Unit4, 5-7 Wells Terrace,
London N4 3JU

Contact: Ian Pocock
email: londoncaat@riseup.net


14
September

Pope John XXIII’s Landmark Document, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) organised by NATIONAL JUSTICE & PEACE NETWORK (NJPN)

Speaker
Vijay Mehta, author of The Economics of Killing

St Columba, Plas Newton Lane, Chester CH2 1SA

Contact:
Ann Kelly - admin@justice-and-peace.org.uk


View leaflet

Read Vijay's Lecture
View Photos of the event


13 - 15
September

IPB (International Peace Bureau) Triennial gathering, Stockholm

View leaflet


04
September

“THE ECONOMICS OF KILLING” book discussion organised by London Region CND

Speaker:
Vijay Mehta, author of The Economics of Killing

Time:: 20:00 - 21:00
Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Contact: David Polden - david.lrcnd@cnduk.org


 

02
September

BIG Blockade
of AWE (Atomic Weapons Establishment) Burghfield

View leaflet


 

25
July

“THE ECONOMICS OF KILLING” book discussion organised by Peace News Summer Camp,
Norfolk, UK

16:30 - 18:30

Woolsey Bridge Fields, Burston Road, Diss., Norfolk

Contact:
Milan Rai
editorial@peacenews.info


17
July


New Economics Foundation London is hosting The Economics of Killing book discussion event at
3 Jonathon Street,
London SE11 5NH
UK

View leaflet


 

29
June

Social History Society, London is hosting The Economics of Killing Book Discussion Event
at the Marchmont Centre, London, UK

View leaflet


27
June

A book discussion on Prof. Akbar Ahmed's book 'The Thistle and the Drone' at the House of Lords

View leaflet


27
June

UfP Churches & Inter-Faith for Peace cordially invite you to:
2013 Edinburgh INTER-FAITH EVENT for WORLD PEACE
Annual Summer Occasion
' REFLECTION and ACTION -- for PEACE

View leaflet

 


14
June

"The Role of India's North - East in Global Development"

An event hosted by Friends of Assam and Seven Sisters in association with Nehru Centre (the Cultural Wing of Indian High Commission) and Tea Board of India as a part of "Celebrate Assam"

View leaflet


07
June

Dutch Student Association Netherlands is hosting The Economics of Killing Book Discussion Event
Utrecht, Netherlands

View leaflet

 


04
June

UNA Blackheath and Greenwich Branch is hosting The Economics of Killing Book Discussion Event at The Old Bakehouse, Bennett Park, 11 Blackheath Village SE3 9LA (opp. Blackheath Station)

View leaflet


01
May

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion Event hosted by Bristol University MUN Society
Bristol, UK

View leaflet


02
May

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion Event hosted by Southampton Hub
Southampton, UK

View leaflet


20
Apr


Uniting for Peace Spring Conference and AGM
Linking 2D's Democracy and Development for Peace
London, UK

View leaflet


05
Mar

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion

University of Warwick
Coventry, UK

[View leaflet]


02
Feb

Faith and Peace -
Middle East and Pakistan
Edinburgh, UK

View leaflet


25
Jan

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion by Oxford Hub
Oxford, UK

View leaflet
Read Lecture


17 - 19
Jan

Human Rights and International Peace Keeping: From Military Intervention to local Anti-violence Efforts

Conference Hosted by: NUCHR
Northwestern University Campus

Evanston, Illinois, USA
Read Lecture


 

2012 Past Events

8
Dec

Commeration of the Nobel Peace Day

[View leaflet]


16
Nov

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion Event

New Delhi, India

[View leaflet]


20
Nov

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion Event

Mumbai, MH 400001, India

[View leaflet]


22
Nov

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion Event

Hyderbad - 500 082, India

[View leaflet]


23
Oct

The Economics of Killing Book Launch Discussion

University of Bristol

View leaflet


20
Oct

Called to be Peacemakers Conference 2012 - 'Money, Power
and Peace'

Euston Road, London, UK

[View leaflet]


4
Oct

The Economics of Killing Book Launch Discussion

University of Sussex,
Brighton, East Sussex, UK

[Vew Leaflet]


21st
Sept

Celebrate International Day of Peace

I N V I T A T I O N: United Nations International Day of Peace 2012

Liverpool, UK

[View leaflet]


21st - 23rd
Sept

Peace Days 2012
Edinburgh, UK

[View leaflets]


18
Sept

The Economics of Killing Book Discussion Event

Quaker Meeting House, Edinburgh

[Vew Leaflet]


 

Past Events

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