We were reminded at our gathering of NFPB members and other Friends, in Lancaster on 12th May, of the maxim to ‘think globally, act locally’. At the meeting we heard about the work of the International Peace Bureau (IPB – http://www.ipb.org/ ) , of which we have been a member for many years but without being very actively so. Dave Webb, one of IPB’s Vice Presidents, described the recent and current work of the organisation and encouraged us to consider how we could get involved and make more use of the network it provides. The Global Days of Action on Military Spending (http://demilitarize.org/) are one area of its focus, alongside advocating sustainable development for non-military security.
Dave Webb is also the current Chair of CND (http://www.cnduk.org/) , marking its 60th Anniversary this year. We heard from Dave, and from NFPB member Janet Fenton (via an email) of recent nuclear disarmament discussions in Geneva, and we discussed initiatives to persuade the UK government to sign up to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), itself a product of the International Campaign Against Nuclear weapons (ICAN) (http://www.icanw.org/the-treaty/)NFPB members were attending from many parts of the North of Britain, bringing with them news and information of their peace activities. These included:
- preparation by a local peace group for the major ‘Armed Forces Day’ events that will be taking place in Llandudno on 30th June. (https://www.armedforcesday.org.uk/llandudno-to-host-armed-forces-day-2018/)
- a number of events on Conscientious Objectors’ day (15th May), including the unveiling of sculpture to be sited in Princess St Gardens in Edinburgh. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-44110224)
- work by the Richardson Institute at Lancaster University on ‘Positive Peace’
- local responses in Newcastle to a document circulated in April that encouraged violent acts against Muslims.
In more reflective parts of the day Friends talked about the importance of empathy and of nurturing personal peace as well as taking action for peace in society. We were encouraged to take seriously the voices of young people and to consider focusing on gendered violence. More generally, Friends asked a number of questions, including how we we can move – and encourage others to move – from general support to taking effective action, and to have both reality and idealism in mind in seeking to build a just peace. It was good to have participation spanning 70 years, with Friends between their early 20s and early 90s in age, sharing both a sense of urgency coupled with an awareness that change can take time.