Tag Archive: peace


MASIL land struggle

‘To those who say, “But I didn’t take your land” I reply, “Are we going to be honorable ancestors?”‘

MASIL is a historic exchange between Indigenous Mapuche activists in Chile/Argentina and Aboriginal activists in Australia.

The goals of the MASIL Project are:

  • To establish face to face contact and dialogue and build links between Indigenous communities protecting their lands.
  • To document all the work that is carried out and
  • To produce a documentary of approximately 60 minutes duration, for distribution in Australia and internationally.

 

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Saturday 19 May 2018, Palestinians and solidarity activists gathered and walked together – reaching for peace – to remember The Nakba.  The Nakba is ‘the catastrophe’, the year when the Israeli state forcibly expelled three quarters of the Palestinian population from their villages and homes. This was one of the first acts in an ongoing process of ethnic cleansing and dispossession of Palestinians from their lands.

The catastrophe continues, 70 years on, fueled this week by the inflammatory choice of the Trump government to move the US embassy to East Jerusalem, and then the killing of dozens and injuring of 2,400+ Palestinians gathered to protest the move and what it  symbolises for their future.  The UN proposed a motion for an independent inquiry into the Gaza violence… many countries abstained. Only two vote to oppose it: the US and… Australia. Why Australia?  It seems telling that Naarm Melbourne should be at the walk in solidarity.

Occupied but unconquered.  Long live the intifada!

I have to look that one up, intifada, and Wiki tells me its “an Arabic word literally meaning, as a noun, “tremor”, “shivering”, “shuddering”. It is derived from an Arabic term nafada meaning “to shake”, “shake off”, “get rid of”, as a dog might shrug off water, or as one might shake off sleep,or dirt from one’s sandals”. This brings Matthew 10:14 to mind: If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. There is no welcome, there is no listening, there is no where else for the people of Palestine to go.  Intifada “is a key concept in contemporary Arabic usage referring to a legitimate uprising against oppression. It is often rendered into English as “uprising”, “resistance”, or “rebellion”.” Today, that resistance and strong spirit to live was carried in the hands and voices, and marching feet of Palestinians and their children. Today, hope was carried in the hands and voices, and marching feet of Palestinians and their children.

 

From here, in Melbourne Australia, it is difficult to comprehend what is happening in Gaza. It’s not a war of the military and armies (bad enough) – but non-combatant ordinary people trying to go to school and work and live life behind fences.  It’s likened to apartheid in South Africa and comparisons drawn to the Berlin Wall, but we have not learned from these atrocities.  What will be the story of how history remembers the Palestine-Israel conflict?  Who will be seen as the oppressors and the oppressed? What might reconciliation and restorative justice look like in this land because I know my freedom is bound to yours. In this way Israel need to understand that their freedom is tied to Palestines’ and the freedom of Palestine to that of Israel.

From the front, a speaker says:

Palestinians are fighting for their lives, Palestinians are humans, we are humans, we are Palestine.

And I wonder whether maybe the solution is there somewhere… in the call to our common humanity.

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The Oratory glows golden for a moment. Lit by wintery midday sun. Behind the lids of my prayerfully closed eyes it seems the light filling the room is the same light filling me and I turn my face to Your warmth.

We light candles. Mine is a confession.

Faysal Ishak Ahmed

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We gathered today to acknowledge and show respect to Faysal Ishak Ahmed.

We gather knowing we will do this again. We will do this again because there will be more deaths. They are preventable. This is unacceptable.  We know this will happen again because it has happened and is still happening with 23 deaths in the last two years (Australian Border Deaths Database).  Perhaps it’s feeling like there’s too many vigils, we had one just last month… to this we say “Yes. There are too many vigils.”

The origin of the word “vigil” is to do with being awake and keeping watch. We want to acknowledge the sorrow, grief and anger of Faysal’s friends and family. The other survivors of Dafur who know how few survivors there were wondering whether they might ever feel at home here. Those yet in camps on Nauru or Manus who wonder what help, what hope, might yet come for them.

Faysal, refugee – yes, and also a son, a husband, a father, a human died at 27 years of age. Today we say his name, hold his picture up – we say not only that your death meant something, but your life meant something even though we did not know you.

I imagine Jesus on his knees praying in the garden of Gethsemane wondering what help, what hope, might yet come but having some sense of inevitability about his situation asking of his companions: “Can you not stay awake and watch with me for even an hour?”.   To those waiting in the camps it must seem as though we are asleep for surely if we knew they were sick, surely if we knew they were being hurt, surely if we knew they were hungry this would not be a situation we would let continue… I hold my goddaughter in my lap, she is just starting out at school – learning to read – I imagine her asking me in years to come when this is a social studies project at school “Where were you while this was happening? Why didn’t you do something? Why did it take so long to change?” and trying to explain how it could be that some of us, so many of us, should be “asleep”. Yes he had refugee status – that didn’t seem to make a difference. The PNG government declared the camps illegal – that didn’t seem to make a difference.   The UN said aspects of Australia’s asylum seeker policies violate the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – that didn’t seem to make a difference… What will make a difference?  I overhear one woman say to another: “What people don’t understand is that to do nothing is to do something.”

 

We have met today on the Princes Bridge, I don’t know why. I look around while I wait for the formalities to begin and notice that all along the bridge is the Latin motto Vires Acquirit Eundo (the coat of arms of Melbourne) meaning ‘she gathers strength as she goes’ referring to the Roman goddess Fama or rumour personified. Following the speakers and a moment of silence, those holding flowers are invited to throw them from the bridge into the Yarra river and I realise my hope is that these vigils might gather strength as they go.

Those who are on their knees praying are asking us if we can be awake.
Those crying alone in the darkness are asking if we can stay awake with them.

Unbidden some of those at the vigil move out onto the road and block traffic on the bridge. They are asking us: “Are you awake?”

The next action calling for the camps to be closed, for the refugees seeking our protection to be given their mandated human rights, will be held on Sunday 9 April (Palm Sunday) – this is a question for people of all faiths and none: “Are you awake?”

 

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Consider looking into the Love Makes A Way movement or Refugee Action Collective for other ways to be involved and further details for the Palm Sunday event as it draws closer. I’ve drawn on inspiration from many of tonight’s vigil speakers above, thanks for your voice and advocacy.

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Merciful God, we offer to you the fears in us that have not yet been cast out by love

 

Let us pray for all who suffer, and ask that God would give us peace:

For all who have died in the violence of war,
conflicts or acts of terror,
each one remembered and known to God.
May God give peace

For those who love them in death as in life,
offering to God the distress of our grief
and the sadness of our loss.
May God give peace

For all the peace-keepers and peacemakers,
and all who are in danger this day,
remembering especially their families and friends.
May God give peace

For those whose lives are disfigured by war,
conflict, acts of terror or injustice,
calling to mind in penitence the anger and hatreds of humanity
May God give peace

For all who bear the burden and privilege of leadership,
political, military and religious; asking for gifts of wisdom
and resolve in the search for reconciliation and peace.
May God give peace

For our country Australia, its land and seas;
its struggles in adversity, its courage and hope;
for tolerance and our respect for one another,
and our commitment for justice and reconciliation for all
May God give peace

O God of truth and justice,
we hold before you those whose memory we cherish,
and those whose names we’ll never know.
Help us to lift our eyes above the torment of this broken world, and
grant us the grace to pray for those who wish us harm.
As we honour the past,
may we put our faith in your future;
for you are the source of life and hope,
now and forever.

Amen

 

 

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On the weekend of 24-25 September Whitley College hosted a conference called Constitutions and Treaties: Law, Justice, Spirituality – these are notes from session 4 of 9. We acknowledge that this gathering, listening and learning occurred of the land of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nations and offer our respects to their elders past and present, and all visiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island visitors present.

Knowledge puffs up (self), love builds up (others) – Ray’s Dad… and 1 Cor 8:1

What do we know we know? What do we know we don’t know?

 

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Our lives matter

On 6 July 2016 Philando Castile was shot in front of his family in his car.  The next day at a peaceful #blacklivesmatter rally 5 policemen were shot by a sniper. The next day as I walked to the train station  I discovered this abhorrent graffiti in Leeds St across the pavement and shop fronts… from Minnesota to Texas to Australia in three days. A hand reaching out from the US all the way to Footscray and I feel cold and unsafe: We don’t want that violence here. We don’t want that hate here. That will not and should not touch my home.

 

 

Being one of those interfering women –I ask of myself, “Right, what can I do about this…” I took photos on my phone and sent then to the City Council and my local police station asking them to clean it up.  Ours is a multicultural, multifaith, mostly safe neighbourhood and I don’t want anyone’s propaganda creating an environment of fear or unrest in the place/space that is my home for myself or others… Yes #blacklivesmatter. All lives matter.

What else is there to do? Cleaning up graffiti is managing the symptoms but what about the root cause? Using violence to solve our problems doesn’t seem to be working… Animosity seems to breed animosity.  The right to bear arms doesn’t seem to make the world more safer just increase our odds of dying by getting shot.  Led by our fear… Sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never... That’s patently untrue. And these words hurt.  What does it mean for this to be written on our streets and on our walls?  Do people really understand how far-reaching their choices, their words, their actions are?

This sort of a call to violent action is an anathema to me (I looked that up, it means: a detested thing) it felt like a violation (I looked that up to, it means: to disregard/treat profanely/break in upon-disturb/sexual assault). This impacted my sense of home and feeling safe matters. Having a sense of home matters. We are making the world we live in. Do people understand that? You are making the world we live in. Do you understand that?

I have delayed this post because I wanted some amazing idea. An everyday person makes a choice in a moment there, what choice can I make in a moment here? Something I could do that might have impact here that sent ripples just as far-reaching back the other way but, funnily enough, I couldn’t fix world peace this month.  I intend to keep thinking about it though and asking of myself: “what can I do?”

In the meantime, I will keep walking in my neighbourhood. I will keep reading the word on the street and even though I haven’t done anything and nothing’s changed, and although I can’t really explain why, I have a feeling it’s going to be ok.

 

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I’m puddling my way through the Bartimaeus Institute Restorative Justice online course – and am struck anew by what it means to have teaching that holds the bible in one hand and the newspaper in another, historical contextual interpretation and current relevance… Ched and Elaine re-frame the above tool in such terms as peace keeping, peace making, peace building and peace waging.

 

When Jesus saw the city he wept over it, saying,
“Would that you knew the things that make for peace!”
Luke 19:42

This is good theological meat and you should eat some.  Lots of free access articles and webinars on their website too…