Hearing First Hand From A Hiroshima Survivor

“They still wonder why they lived when so many others died. Each of them counts many small items of chance or volition—a step taken in time, a decision to go indoors, catching one streetcar instead of the next that spared him. And now each knows that in the act of survival he lived a dozen lives and saw more death than he ever thought he would see. At the time, none of them knew anything.”  – from Hiroshima by John Hersey

John Hersey’s vivid account of six Hiroshima survivors in the immediate aftermath of the blast was, for many, a window into the humanitarian cost of the end of the war. Having read Hersey’s account along with countless other scientific reports, political analyses and survivor reports, I naively thought myself numbed to the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Recently at the Youth Peace Academy in Glasgow, I had the honour of hearing Mr Masashi Ieshima, a Hiroshima Hibakusha (survivor), share his experience. Mr Masashi was only three years old at the time of the bombing and yet has fragmented memories of the aftermath. He described how his family managed to escape but many of their loved ones did not. For survivors, the ramifications of Hiroshima would haunt them throughout their lives.  All the academic books in the world could not have prepared me for hearing about the suffering and horrors first hand from a survivor – it was a truly moving experience.

Mr Masashi is the Vice-chairman if the Tokyo Federation of A-bomb Sufferer’s Organisations. Despite now being in his seventies and having recently been diagnosed with what he believes is radiation-related cancer Mr Masashi continues to travel all over the world to share his story and campaign for a nuclear-free future. After sharing his story, he urged those attending to continue the struggle to outlaw nuclear weapons through peaceful means. Mr Masashi’s story and dedication to the cause has inspired me to evaluate my own contribution and ask what more I can do to bring the world a step closer to a nuclear-free future. It is a question which we all must ask ourselves and even the smallest contribution can help to make sure we never see another Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Niamh McGurk is a student at the University of St Andrews and a summer intern at the Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre where she is promoting the 140,000 Origami Cranes project to raise awareness of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the Ban Treaty). Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre is one of 468 partner organisations that collectively make up the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for our work to promote the Ban Treaty. 

http://peaceandjustice.org.uk/peace-organisations/origami-cranes-project/

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John Dear to speak at P&J AGM on Nonviolent Resistance in the Age of Trump

The Peace & Justice Centre is delighted to announce that John Dear will be our special guest speaker for our AGM on 13 July.

Long time activist, and movement organizer Fr. John Dear is the author of 35 books, including “Living Peace,” and “The Nonviolent Life.” He has been arrested more than 75 times. John was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu and is Outreach Coordinator of Campaign Nonviolence which coordinates hundreds of actions for peace and the environment each year.

A Catholic priest, he has served as the director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the largest interfaith peace organization in the United States, and after September 11, 2001, as one of the Red Cross coordinators of chaplains at the Family Assistance Center in New York City, and counseled thousands of relatives and rescue workers. He has worked in homeless shelters and soup kitchens, traveled in warzones and been arrested over 75 times in acts of civil disobedience against war, including for a disarmament action – known as a Plowshares action.

John writes: “On Dec. 7, 1993, my friends Philip Berrigan, Lynn Fredriksson, Bruce Friedrich and I walked onto the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C. at 4am, passed through thousands of soldiers in the middle of full-scale national war games, came upon an F-15E nuclear capable fighter bomber and hammered upon it to fulfill Isaiah’s Advent prophecy that someday, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more.” John served nine months in prison with the renowned Catholic peace and disarmament activist Philip Berrigan for that action and was a very close friend of Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan.

John was a Jesuit priest for decades but was dismissed from the order for, according to the order, being “obstinately disobedient”.

In 2016 John took part in a Vatican conference called “Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence” that included 80 participants from around the world who represented broad experiences in peacebuilding and active nonviolence in the face of violence and war.

The participants called on Pope Francis to consider writing an encyclical letter, or some other “major teaching document,” reorienting the church’s teachings on violence. This led to the MESSAGE OF POPE
FRANCIS 
for the 50th World Day of Peace 
1 January 2017: Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace. 

Marie Denis, Co-President of Pax Christi International said Pope Francis makes “very clear” that active non-violence is not mere passivity or withdrawing from engagement in a very violent world. Rather, she says, It is a way of life and a spirituality, but also “a powerful set of tools to help us respond” to threats of extreme violence and danger. She says the Pope takes an important step in the direction of non-violence as a message for the Catholic community worldwide, showing that our way of engaging the world has to reflect the life and teachings of Jesus.

6pm. Informal gathering with light meal at the Peace and Justice Centre – an opportunity for networking and fellowship.

6:45pm John Dear’s talk at the Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace.

8:30pm. P&J AGM.

Please register to our Facebook or Eventbrite event and share to spread the word!

 

John will be co-leading a Reclaiming Gospel Nonviolence Conference 14—16 July 2017 at St. Mary’s Monastery, Kinnoull, Perth, PH2 7BP. For more info on the conference see HERE. 

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Pancakes for Peace – 28th February 2017

Are you planning on having Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday this year?Why not invite some friends and neighbours around celebrate together with our free resource? Or if you don’t fancy cooking, you can print it out and take it to pancake night at the local pub. It includes ideas for prayer & action, plus a recipe for vegan pancakes.  Check it out and start thinking about what toppings you’d like to have.

Don’t forget to tweet your pictures @forpeacemaker using #PancakesForPeace.

Quiz (answers on reverse):

1. How many pancakes could we make with the cost of replacing Trident, Britain’s nuclear arsenal?

2. What is the fastest someone has completed a marathon whilst flipping a pancake?

3. How many words can you find using the letters in SHROVE TUESDAY?

4. Are you doing anything different for Lent this year?

5. How easy is it to write to your MP about the upcoming Nuclear Ban Treaty negotiations in March?

Find out more information here: Pancakes for Peace – 28th February 2017

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Dan Berrigan – Peacemaker – Dies, age 94

Catonsville Nine burn draft files

The great “radical priest” Daniel Berrigan has died. With his brother Philip and a group of Catholic pacifists known as the Catonsville Nine he famously burned draft files, protesting the Vietnam War, in 1968 and with the Plowshares Eight, he hammered on the nosecone of a nuclear missile, inspiring a wave of similar symbolic disarmament actions around the world. After being convicted for the Catonsville action Dan went underground, popping up at anti war demonstrations, eluding the FBI and, when caught, he spent two years in Federal prison.

Dan Berrigan with Howard Zinn in Hanoi. Photo: howardzinn.org

With the historian Howard Zinn he travelled to North Vietnam and obtained the release of three American pilots, telling the story in the book Night Flight to Hanoi, and he appeared with Jeremy Irons in the film The Mission. He said his epitaph should be: “It was never dull. Alleluia.”

Berrigan was a prolific writer of poetry and prose. He wrote: “Of course, let us have peace, we cry, ‘but at the same time let us have normalcy, let us lose nothing, let our lives stand intact, let us know neither prison nor ill repute nor disruption of ties … ‘ There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war – at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison, and death in its wake.”
 

But Dan Berrigan was a peacemaker. He was arrested hundreds of times, consistently, nonviolently protesting US wars, bombing, torture. His way with words coupled with dramatic action propelled him to fame. In a “Meditation” on Catonsville he wrote: “Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise…. The time is past when good men can remain silent, when obedience can segregate men from public risk, when the poor can die without defense.”

 

And his brand of peacemaking certainly brought notoriety. The first US priests to be arrested for anti war protests Dan and Phil were, notably, pictured on the cover of Time magazine, and Dan’s obituary, fittingly, appears on the front cover of yesterday’s New York Times.

 
Among those inspired by Dan Berrigan were Sister Megan Rice, the 84 year old Catholic nun who broke into the Y12 complex in Tennessee where US nuclear weapons are built and Fr John Dear who hammered on an F15-E nuclear-capable fighter-bomber in North Carolina. Sr Megan and Fr John have both spoken at the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre.
 
I met Dan Berrigan when he spoke at Georgetown University in 1983, just a few years after the Plowshares Eight action near my hometown in Pennsylvania. I was deeply impressed by his talk and asked him what I could do to work for peace. He answered enigmatically that there were many things to do. And so there have been. And so there are.
Dan Berrigan’s life stands as a call to peacemaking, a call to action.
John Dear gives a more detailed account of the life of Dan Berrigan in The Huffington Post. 
Brian Larkin
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First World War Resisters Celebrated in P&J Exhibition at Scottish Storytelling Centre

 

An exhibition of graphic posters telling stories of people and movements that opposed the First World War opens Thursday 25 February with a participatory, storytelling launch event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Alice Wheeldon is a Prophet by Emily Johns

Alice Wheeldon is a Prophet by Emily Johns

The original, colourful posters in The World is My Country exhibtion echo some of the graphic styles of the First World War era and feature disobedient soldiers, feminist peace activists, a Maori princess, a famous Cambridge philosopher, and the striking graphic art of Emily Johns.

A co-editor of the national Peace News the highly political Johns’ previous exhibitions include Conscious Oil: myth and mind in the age of petroleum, Remember Saro-Wiwa, and Drawing Paradise on the ‘Axis of Evil’, a show dealing with Britain’s relationship with Iran. She is teaming up with writer and researcher, Gabriel Carlyle for a participatory and celebratory launch event that includes a short performance of original songs about conscientious objectors by the local choir Protest in Harmony.

TheWorldOrganised by the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, the exhibition coincides with the centenary of the Military Service Act which instituted conscription in the First World War. A dozen design sketches for a memorial to conscientious objectors by pupils from a St Thomas Aquins Secondary School History are included in the exhibition.  We hope the the Conscientious Objectors Memorial will be installed in Princes St Gardens, in Edinburgh by November 2018.  Find out more about the Memorial project here.

The World Is My Country Exhibition runs from Thurs 25 February through Saturday 12 March at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High St

The World Is My Country Exhibition Launch Event  Thursday 25 Feb 6 – 8pm. Includes wine and food. Free. All Welcome. 

The World is My Country exhibtion is travelling around the UK. This is the only opportunity to see the exhibition in Scotland. The posters that comprise the exhibition can be viewed on The World is My Country exhibtion website here.

The exhibition concludes with Songs of the Unsung Heroes, a singing workshop, celebrating the movements and people who opposed the First World War, led by Jane Lewis and Penny Stone from Protest in Harmony choir on Saturday 12 March from 2 – 4:30pm at the Storytelling Centre. Cost for the workshop is £12 / £10.

 

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Why Red Poppies and Not White Sold @ Parliament?

poppy symbolScottish WILPF distributed almost 400 poppies in the Scottish Parliament to MSPs, staff and guests during this week.
Due to Scottish parliamentary rules they were neither allowed to sell the poppies or ask for donations. John Mason MSP topped up the box with some of his when they ran low.
Please write to your MSPs to ask why red poppies can be on sale in the Scottish Parliament. They were everywhere. But not white.
Poppy Scotland is the only charity that is allowed to collect in the Scottish Parliament.
WILPF would love to give out free white poppies every year – but as a small organisation can not afford to do this.
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