Two years on from the killing of MP Jo Cox (and when NFPB also met in Scotland), we began our meeting this June on the day of the Great Get Together , an idea of the Jo Cox Foundation. Reflecting on the theme of getting together, Friends reaffirmed the value of hearing one another, gaining insights from different perspectives but also being energised and challenged to be more than we are alone. Friends brought news of peace witness around the North; we heard of a variety of creative initiatives, from public talks and meetings, to gatherings sharing music and food, and of plans and experiences of taking a stand and speaking out.
The work continues to get the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons implemented and for nuclear weapons to be taken out of use. Janet Fenton described the activities of ICAN to this end, with partner bodies taking different action around the world. In Scotland, campaigners are exploring the scope for Scotland implementing some aspects of the Treaty, even though it is not in its power to sign or to ratify it. And on 22 September an international protest , with related events before and after, will take place at Faslane. We agreed to take forward the suggestion of publishing an awareness-raising leaflet from a faith perspective. We will also be exploring other opportunities to contribute to this collective effort.
We were pleased to again welcome to our meeting Mairi Campbell-Jack, Parliamentary Engagement Officer for Friends in Scotland. She updated us on the progress of the Petition that Friends and Forces Watch had submitted to the Scottish Parliament in relation to military visits to schools. The impact of such visits is now being monitored. Mairi is also at the early stages of looking into what work she could usefully do to advocate for peace education in Scotland. In discussion, we were reminded that both peace education and military recruitment of young people exist in a wider context, with other factors also shaping the opportunities and outcomes for the young people concerned.
The meeting heard a short report of a conference on Rethinking Security that took place the previous weekend, and agreed to put further effort into offering workshops and supporting work to run a similar conference in Glasgow on the same themes.
Our final item for consideration was the issue of identity and peace. Some years ago, NFPB published a collection of individuals’ thoughts on national identity in Britain; whilst some of the points addressed in that publication remain the same, others have shifted dramatically. Friends spoke from the heart. Some talked of the importance of including others – particularly the vulnerable – into our concept of our own communities. Some of their own feelings of rootedness whilst have a strong sense of being world citizens. We need to hear and engage with differences honestly, we were urged. The consideration will continue.
Following the meeting, NFPB members were among the nearly 30 Friends at a Meeting for Worship at Faslane on Sunday, and others at the protest on Tuesday morning around the Glasgow arms fair . Next weekend, our Friends in North Wales will be playing a significant role in witness for peace in the context of the national Armed Forces Day events at Llandudno .