Thursday, 9 August 2007
Monday, 30 July 2007
Remember the hostages by Virginia
Our thoughts and prayers are with the hostages, their families and their kidnappers and we pray for their speedy release
Resisting the natural impulse by Virginia
I didn't manage 3 runs this week but did get out again for 90 minutes on Saturday. "Run on you Poor" and "Run on those who Mourn" were background thoughts. As I ran, I reflected that we cannot be physically present to comfort those who mourn, or to build the justice of kingdom of heaven for the poor. However we can help by our prayers, our solidarity actions and of course by our fundraising. At the end of the run I had a nasty encounter with 2 young lads on a motorbike who were zooming up and down the cycle path, nearly knocking me and two children flying. I was so furious I shouted angrily at them. They shouted back and deliberately tried to frighten me when they turned round and passed me the other way. I think I was right to confront them, but I realised afterwards being so angry could have created a more dangerous situation. It made me think that an angry violent response,so often a natural impulse, is one that leads us to worse trouble in the end.
That's why we need projects like Wi'am in Palestine, a small beacon of hope, suggesting that violence is not the only answer. There is an alternative way to live in the face of great oppression. We were privileged to have the Director of Wi'am, Zoughbi Zoughbi, as a guest in our home last night. Listening to his stories of life in Palestine reminded us how much easier it is to be a peacemaker in the tranquillity and safety of England. The hills of that half marathon feel a little less daunting when I think of the good work Wi'am is doing. If you feel equally inspired to donate to this sponsored run, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Thursday, 26 July 2007
The DESO Backlash Starts Here- by Chris
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
PM Announces Closure of DESO by Chris
After recent leaks from the Treasury, Gordon Brown today announced the closure of the governments arms promotion unit, DESO. The news came as something of a shock as we were not expecting any news until the autumn. It was obviously a shock to BAE Systems and SBAC according to Defencenews! FoR has been running a specific campaign on DESO for the past 12 months but arms trade campaigners have been working on the issue for - well, decades. I think tonight particularly of our old friend Mary Ann Ebert who vigiled outside DESO's offices in Soho Square for many years until her death.
Of course this doesn't mean the end of the arms trade - the work of promoting UK arms exports is being moved to the UK Trade and Industy body but it is hugely signifcant. Perhaps one could say the beginning of the end?
Monday, 23 July 2007
Run on Peacemakers by Virginia
The difficult bit has been the toll on my body. I suffer from sciatica which means I have to be careful to do lots of back and stomach exercises, and I don't do them enough. I am used to managing this but now seem to have some on and off problems with my shins and right foot. I am hoping that these will be sorted by my fab new birthday running shoes (which will be winging their way to me soon, I had to send the first pair back because I foolishly told Chris the wrong size!)But in the meantime I have taken a little break, partly to rest up and partly because we went to the National Justice and Peace Conference at the weekend. There wasn't much time for running but plenty of time for thinking about peacemaking, particularly because of the powerful messages from our two key note speakers. The first, Fr John Dear, a long term activist and writer from the US, gave us an inspirational address which was so rich it will take me a long time to process. However, one thing that stood out immediately was his reflections on the Beatitudes, which have transformed my understanding of what was already a wonderful piece of scripture. The Beatitudes were a theme that ran through his talk and rightly so, for as he pointed out they are the core of Jesus' message on peacemaking, so much so that Gandhi read them twice a day. This was a revelation in itself. But the news that there is a recent translation which if I understood him right suggests that rather than being passive "Blessed are the poor, those who mourn" etc, the message is meant to be far more active, "Walk on you poor in spirit, Walk on those who mourn" blew me away. I am taking this one step further to inspire my running, "Run on you peacemakers, for you shall be called children of God" and I will be using the Beatitudes as meditation when I go on my long runs. Thanks John for this new understanding and for the great story of the chapel of the beatitudes.
Our other speaker was also important in a different way, and I was particularly glad to meet him. Zoughbi Zoughbi, an Arab Palestinian Christian happens to be the Director of the Wi'am community, which is one of the projects supported by the International Peacemakers Fund. In a community that is hemmed in on all sides, where children and adults live with daily trauma, Wi'am offers the chance for people to find ways to resolve their conflicts peacefully and nonviolently. Zoughbi told us many stories of living under occupation, and the fact that he does so without rancour and bitterness, despite having been jailed, despite facing regular humiliations to travel short distances in his own country, gave me an insight into what true peacemaking looks like. To remain nonviolent in the face of such provocation with your only hope to bring others "to their senses, not their knees" is a challenge that Zoughbi more than lives up to. The work that his community does is vital in that it gives young Palestinians a hopeful alternative than the immediate (understandable) thirst for revenge that leads nowhere and creates more violence in it's wake.
So I have returned from the conference with a rested foot, a new meditation to aid my running and the knowledge that I have seen most powerfully why we should be supporting communities like the Wi'am community.
This week then I hope to complete a long run of up to 90 mins, a hilly run that involves 3 lots of 7 minutes continuous up and down, and a tempo run of about 45 minutes. My foot and back are a bit better so I am going to try and do some of those pesky exercises too.
Wish me Luck
Running for Peace by Virginia
This September I have decided to try a longer run again and I have entered the New Forest Half Marathon, which takes place on the 16th September 2007. And I have decided to take the opportunity to raise funds for international peacemakers at the same time. Since 2005, the Fellowship of Reconciliation has been raising money on behalf of peacemakers working to find alternative solutions to violence, often in the most difficult conflicts. The International Peacemakers Fund
supports the work of the Wi'am community that provides conflict resolution in Palestine, the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado in Colombia which promotes peace amidst extraordinary violence from state and guerilla forces, as well as projects in Sudan, Zimbabwe and Uganda. I am hoping to raise £500 for the fund which will go directly to the projects supported.
If you are interested in supporting this effort, you can do so in two ways. The first is the obvious one to sponsor me, and I hope to have a link to my fundraising website shortly. The second is to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. Training for a long distance event is hard work, particularly when your body doesn't always do what you want it to do. It always helps to know people are thinking of me.
Thanks for the support, I'll keep you posted as to how I get on, starting with my next post.