(NSW) Nonviolent Peacemaking: in your community … in your world 2012

4, 11, 18 August 2012 (3 Saturdays)
Edmund Rice Centre
15 Henley Rd Homebush West – opp Flemington Station

A 3 day workshop in nonviolent peacemaking for beginners and experienced practitioners.

Come and learn about:

  • the principles power of active nonviolence in the tradition of Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr;
  • connecting personal transformation and social change;
  • concrete skills for putting nonviolent power into practice.

Continue reading “(NSW) Nonviolent Peacemaking: in your community … in your world 2012”

Christians and Climate Change: Nonviolence in Action Practical Workshop

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

Saturday 13th November, 1-4pm
Quaker Meeting House, Lower Hall
119 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
Gold coin entry

Learn about:

  • Why nonviolent direct action in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Desmond Tutu is a legitimate response to the climate crisis
  • The spirituality, theology and power of nonviolent direct action (NVDA)
  • NVDA principles, skills and tactics
  • How to get involved in potential actions, including the Climate Camp

With:

  • Justin Whelan, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service
  • Simon Roz, World Vision
  • Catherine Cresswell, Bluegreen Media

Climate Camp:

Ordinary people around the world are participating in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, at coal infrastructure, government offices, carbon exchanges and more. In early December, people from all walks of life will come together in the Hunter Valley for the ‘Camp for Climate Action 2010‘ – five days of learning, planning and sustainable living, culminating in a peaceful mass action at Bayswater power station. Among those participating are Christians, who are moved by the urgency of climate change and the failures of the political process to address it, and by a long Christian legacy of nonviolence.

Download the flyer here

And here is a short blurb for inserting into church notices and bulletins:

Christians and Climate Change: Nonviolence in Action Practical Workshop

Learn about nonviolent direct action (NVDA) in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Desmond Tutu, why NVDA is a legitimate response to the climate crisis, NVDA tactics, and how you can get involved in potential actions.  Saturday 13th November, 1-4pm.  Quaker Meeting House, 119 Devonshire St, Surry Hills.  For more information see http://paceebene.wordpress.com/

Christians, Climate Change and Nonviolence

coal power station vigil

Saturday 15th August, 1-4pm
Quaker Meeting House, Lower Hall
119 Devonshire St, Surry Hills

Learn about:

  • Why nonviolent direct action in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Desmond Tutu is a legitimate response to the climate crisis
  • The spirituality and theology of nonviolent direct action (NVDA)
  • The power of NVDA
  • How to get involved in potential actions

With:

  • Justin Whelan, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service
  • Jonathan Moylan, Rising Tide
  • Catherine Cresswell, Greenpeace
  • Anne and Ian Hodgson, climate activists

Gold coin entry

For more info contact Miriam by email or 0447 730 772

Ordinary people around the world are participating in nonviolent direct action at coal infrastructure, government offices, carbon exchanges and more. Among them are Christians, who are moved by the urgency of climate change and the failures of the political process to address it, and by a long Christian legacy of nonviolence.

“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

We all know that times change, and what was acceptable in one era may not be acceptable in another. You have heard of how it was once legal to own other people, how it was illegal for women to vote. Well one way or another we are going to have to stop burning coal and move on from the fossil fuel era. And that means that the law will eventually have to change and acknowledge the harm that carbon emissions do to all of us, by making them illegal. The only question is whether the law will catch up in time for there to be anything left to protect.” (Closing Statement, Drax 22)

Download the Flyer here

Please pass on to your friends!

Pace e Bene supports peacemakers at Talisman Sabre

Pace e Bene Australia supports the actions of the Bonhoeffer 4, Catholic Workers and Pax Christi Activists

The Bonhoeffer 4 inside the war games site
The Bonhoeffer 4 inside the war games site

Four nonviolent Christian activists, Margaret Pestorius, Jarrod McKenna, Jessica Morrison  and Rev. Simon Moyle, calling themselves the Bonhoeffer 4, entered the Shoalwater Bay Training Area about 6 am on 13 July 2009. Their intention was to disrupt the Talisman Sabre 09 joint military exercises between the United States and Australia by entering the live-free zone. Jarrod and Simon are members of Pace e Bene Australia.

They were found and arrested at 2.30 pm on 14 July. All four have been charged with trespass and Simon and Jessica have additionally been charged with obstruction of police.

Jim Dowling and Ciaron O’Reilly, members of the Australian Catholic Workers, were arrested on 9 July for blockading military access to the road to the Talisman Sabre 09 area.

Frank Vavasour, a member of Pax Christi in Sydney, was arrested on 12 July, when he attempted to scale the fence of the Rockhampton military barracks, but was later released without charge.

>more information and updates

Bonhoeffer 4 statement

In his article in the Monthly, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called Bonhoeffer “without a doubt, the man I admire most in the history of the twentieth century.” We have taken the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, because he embodied a serious, costly commitment to peacemaking and ending injustice, “a costly grace”. Yet Rudd’s $100 billion long-term military spending plan reveals the Prime Minister has forgotten his hero and is in need of some sisters and brothers to jog his memory.

3 of the Bonhoeffer 4 on the road inside the site
3 of the Bonhoeffer 4 on the road inside the site

That is why we will put our own bodies on the line in order to stop the U.S./ Australian Talisman Saber Military Exercises and jam a spoke in the wheel of war.  These exercises are implicated in killing and injuring our sisters and brothers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including untold numbers of civilians. This “war without end”, as George Bush put it, has no exit strategy and no end in sight.  We will not overcome the violent terrorism of the poor with the violent terrorism of the rich.

Rev. Moyle has been in contact with the Defence Department about our plans for more than 7 months in order to build a relationship of trust and openness.  Air Commander Meier has stated in Parliament, “If we know there is an unauthorised person into the Commonwealth land at Shoalwater Bay…the exercise is stopped.”  The Defence Department has been notified of our presence on the base. We call on Air Commander Meier to keep his word to the Australian people.

We plan to be inside the area for as long as possible, and are well prepared for a long stay.

As Rudd’s hero Bonhoeffer put it, “The church has three possible ways it can act against the State.  First, it can ask the State if its actions are legitimate.  Second, it can aid the victims of the State action… The third possibility is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel but to jam a spoke in the wheel itself.” With our actions and our lives we plan to do all three.

Christian Nonviolent Direct Action as Public Theology

Nonviolent vigil at Baxter Detention Centre
Peace Tree Community nonviolent vigil at Baxter Detention Centre

In  August 2005 a group known as Christians Against Greed joined a rowdy protest against a conference of global corporations at the Sydney Opera House, and found themselves sharing the Eucharist with riot police and anarchists. On Human Rights Day that year, four activists calling themselves Christians Against All Terrorism broke into and attempted a “citizens’ inspection” of the Pine Gap spy base. One week after their trial ended in 2007, five people walked into a war games zone at Shoalwater Bay to play frisbee with defence personnel.

These events were all very public and deeply theological. Yet we tend not to consider them, and other actions like them, as examples of public theology – a term for the process of the church thinking and speaking to the general public about contemporary issues.

In this paper I want to argue that we need a broader understanding of ‘public theology’ that includes public action on the part of the church (or members of the church) that speaks directly into the public sphere. I suggest that Christian nonviolent direct action should be seen in this light, and that both the acts themselves and the public statements made by the actors are clearly designed to articulate a Christian message in response to critical problems of their time.

In this paper I look at three recent examples of Christian nonviolent direct action in Australia. Using the ‘best practice principles’ for public theology identified by John W. de Gruchy, I will explore the way in which these actions make statements to the public about God’s judgment of current policies and God’s vision for a transformed world.

Read the full paper here (4000 words, 434kb PDF)

Climate Change: A Call to Action

With Ross Garnaut finding a conclusion that doesn’t match his own evidence, the challenge for the climate movement is to move quickly and strategically to ensure the Rudd Government does not settle on a weak target (eg. 10% by 2020) for CO2 emissions.

I propose that the time has come for a large-scale campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience.

This proposal is based on the following analysis:

  1. The window of opportunity for this issue lasts from now until, at best, June 2009, when legislation for the emissions trading scheme will have passed. Within this timeframe, the key time is right now, because from about early November at the latest the government will have settled on its target.
  2. The government has demonstrated it is not capable of hearing rational policy advice and is paralysed by the size of the problem and the power of the big polluting industries.
  3. Large-scale, targeted, strategic nonviolent civil disobedience has helped shift the parameters of debates time and again. Indeed, studies of progressive social change suggest that such change is in fact dependent on significant disruption to the political system.

Each of these arguments is spelled out in more detail below.

Before turning to the analysis, I’ve also given some preliminary thought to some of the issues behind making such a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience strategic, rather than merely symbolic. You can read those thoughts here.

But mostly I want you to think deeply about what you can do in the coming weeks and months. If this is, as Kevin Rudd says, “the greatest moral challenge of our time”, what are you prepared to do to ensure we get it right?

Continue reading “Climate Change: A Call to Action”

Strategic nonviolent action on climate change

Climate change activists blocking Newcaslte Coal Port
Climate change activists blocking Newcaslte Coal Port

On the train today I was mulling over what a strategic campaign of NVDA might look like on climate change, rather than just a bunch of random symbolic actions (good as they are).

It seems to me that NVDA plays a strategic role when it exerts pressure on the political system.

For this to happen, it would need a few things:

Continue reading “Strategic nonviolent action on climate change”

Nonviolent direct action shuts down coal port

Peaceful protest on coal line in Newcastle
Peaceful protest on coal line in Newcastle

Last weekend Jarrod and I were both able to attend the Climate Action Camp in Newcastle, the highlight of which was shutting down the railway feeding the world’s largest coal port for a few hours (unconfirmed: over 24 hours as the police were apparently still searching for people overnight!)

Jarrod played an awesome facilitation role in some difficult spokescouncil meetings, helping diverse people work together for a common cause. Considering not everyone was even fully committed to tactical nonviolence (ie. a few thought that physical self defence was OK in a NV action), he and others facilitating did great work.

Jarrod was also a key part of the Parents & Kids Action Team, that enabled a whole bunch of kids to participate in a very safe and empowering way.

Justin joined a Newcastle-based action team / affinity group based around people from Rising Tide, the local anti-coal port NV action crew, and was one of 7 from his team and about 50 people overall who illegally walked onto the railway line (the police had helpfully stopped the trains already, so it was perfectly safe!).

Continue reading “Nonviolent direct action shuts down coal port”