Monday, May 19, 2014

Conscientous objection

May 15th was International Conscientious Objectors Day. The only reason I knew about it was because of a number of my Quaker Facebook f/Friends in Britain posting links to various online Guardian articles and about the events at Friends House, Tavistock Square etc. Britain YM have a handy summary of links to media stories and Geoffrey Durham's 'Thought for the Day' on their website. Given the worldwide spread of my Facebook friends, it didn't feel from here like it was especially 'international', although according to various websites events were held elsewhere in the world, I just didn't get to hear about them. But I guess the fact that there was anything in the media at all is a step in the right direction.

I've been pleasantly surprised by the coverage here about the 100yrs since the start of WWI. Instead of being ridiculed there is a definite sense of respect around for those who refused to fight, and acknowledgement of the other battles they faced - against public opinion at the time, incarceration and field punishment. Radio NZ broadcast an interview with Kevin Clements on ANZAC Day about growing up in a the household of a CO and TVOne broadcast the film 'Field Punishment No1' (preview) in the same week, it is based on the true story of Archibald Baxter. The trailers shown many times for well over a week before broadcast included the lines "'What would happen if everyone felt like you?' 'Then there would be no war.'" ANZAC Day is our equivalent to Remembrance Day in Britain. To have such sympathetic coverage of COs around ANZAC Day is huge.

I do wonder if this shift in popular perception to at least respect and honour those who wouldn't fight, even if many still don't agree with that stance, is partly due to a growing shift against war in general. There seems to be increasing disquiet over the presence of Kiwi troops in places like Afghanistan of late. Too many have come home in body bags for a war that has little relevance to many here and is perceived to be of dubious worth. There is greater skepticism these days about the politics involved, the profiteering of warmongering and protection of the oil giants. When the first war in Iraq broke out in the 90s talk of it being about oil was firmly placed in the conspiracy theories bin by many and not taken seriously. But now such motives for international intervention seems to be accepted - and the lack of overseas oil interests and intervention in Syria has certainly helped add credence to the theory that certain Governments have less than altruistic reasons for sending in troops.

Having been part of the enormous protests around the world against the second Iraq war (which those in power blithely ignored...) I'd like to think that was the tip of an iceberg that is becoming increasingly visible and far more mainstream. The understanding that there is no glory in war, and as much honour in trying to stop one as taking part.

Friday, May 16, 2014

slow progress

Ooops, I'd been on a bit of a roll keeping up with blogging, but then I had another week or so of brain fade, and got out of the habit again... plus of course I also needed to catch up on all the other things that hadn't got done! A couple of projects have just had to be shelved temporarily until I can find a day with time, energy, enthusiasm and inspiration all co-inciding, which seems impossible to schedule in advance!

The projects are a couple of Quaker leaflets - one for our Monthly Meeting, and one using the Kabarak Call for Peace and Ecojustice which will come under the FWCC reps budget line for Yearly Meeting. Yes I know I officially stopped being a rep at the end of December, but poor old Noms Com still haven't found a replacement name to put forward yet and Thomas has the small matter of a book to finish for publication on top of having moved cities and started a new job this year so he's been a bit preoccupied! I have however managed to complete two other leaflets about FWCC ready for YM next week, and a booklet for MM which isn't bad considering a few months ago I could only manage to use the computer for about quarter of an hour at a time.

Part of what slowed me down was getting frustrated trying to work on the tiny screen of my notebook, my laptop is in far worse shape than me and I've been eeking out its existence by only switching it on once a fortnight or so to download, edit and upload photos (and save to another external back-up!). However my laptop has just gone off to the computer doc who will hopefully have more success figuring out what is wrong with it than the medical docs are doing sorting me out... so no pressure Brad!

The last few months though have certainly made me appreciate the small achievements that do get made all the more. I try to remember to feel good about it when I do remember to do something rather than beat myself up when yet again I forget to take paperwork to an appointment or completely forget I was supposed to do something etc. My old fall back of my 'to do list' book is of dubious value at present given I can go days (ahem, weeks...) without remembering to look to see what still needs doing! I had to look at a map the other day to remember the name of the street where I last lived in the UK as I filled in a form as my mind went completely blank, an appeal on Facebook (yay for keeping in touch with former flatmates!) and Google Streetview provided me with confirmation of the house number. I felt a great deal of sympathy for my Granny that day, unlike her worries at least I know it is unlikely to be dementia kicking in just yet! On the plus side at least I knew how to track down the information I needed, even if I couldn't remember it...

A big plus though this week has been able to get out and about a bit under my own steam. I can walk far enough now to be useful - the doctors, chemist and the post office are within reach again (the three places I seem to need most often right now!). Now I just need to hone the skill of estimating how far I can walk so I don't get caught out (again) having got 'there' but not quite had enough energy to get 'back'! It is just as well we have plenty of benches along our main shopping street I can tell you.

The next big adventure though is rapidly approaching - four more days until I set off to Yearly Meeting via Wellington & Blenheim. Thankfully I have lots of lovely people lined up to help me en route, I just have to remember where I'm supposed to be when and hope I manage to pack everything I need and carry it....