Reflecting on politics, witnessing for peace

With members traveling from Cheshire and the North of Scotland and all places between, NFPB’s second meeting of the year took place at Glasgow Meeting House on 13th June.

Our packed agenda addressed issues from peacebuilding in diverse communities to the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system. The backdrop of the general election results in May was significant, as we shared views and reflections on the current state of politics on both sides of the border. We heard both of despair at the outcome and the fears of some in our communities, but also of optimism that alternative voices can now be heard in the Westminster parliament, particularly in relation to Trident. The recently appointed Parliamentary Engagement Officer for Scottish Quakers, Mairi Campbell Jack also joined us, describing her work programme and priorities for the coming months.

Young people were part of our focus; those who feel marginalised as result of their religion or ethnicity, those who are engaging in politics in new ways and those who are subject to the now-persistent promotional efforts of the military as it finds more ways of getting into schools. Two short videos in which QPSW has played a lead role in producing were shown to our members, highlighting key concerns about the latter. The forthcoming launch of The Unseen March will give a different perspective during the coming week leading up to Armed Forces Day.

The Board expressed a strong hope that we would be able to continue to find new ways of taking our work forward on the theme of Building Peace in Diverse Britain. Friends were keen to see how dialogue and the conditions of peace can be developed in our very varied communities. The Board also returned at several points in the day to the role of news media in framing political debate and how minorities are perceived, and heard of plans for a conference in the coming months that will seek to support Quakers and others in addressing aspects of this.

We closed our meeting in silent worship, reflecting on the forthcoming 70th Anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The worship continued the following morning as some NFPB members joined with local Friends in a Quaker Meeting outside the gates of Faslane, the naval base for Trident weapons system.

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