Monday 31 January 2011
Anzac Eve Peacemaker Lantern Vigils, Easter Sunday, 24 April 2011
For those interested in joining the action in Canberra, yesterday Graeme, his good friend Marie Jack attended the January meeting of the Canberra Interfaith Forum as my guest. I introduced them and Graeme in turn, introduced this vision to the CIF's agenda. This was well-received and Graeme followed up with this letter:
Dear Canberra Interfaith Forum folk,
Thank you for receiving Marie and I at the Interfaith Forum meeting on Sunday 30 Jan and being so receptive to our proposal for a Peace Lantern Vigil on Anzac Day eve, 24 April next.
There was much positive interest in the project from various members of the Interfaith Forum and I was asked to put the proposition in writing so that the Forum could consider how it might associate and contribute to the event. Here goes:
The project arises out of concern at the increasing militarisation of Australian society and culture. It is a deep and abiding challenge to all people of faith that we are now, as a nation, committed to war without end.
The terrible truth is that war has been normalised.
At the same time Anzac commemorations have never been more popular. The book What's Wrong with Anzac? The Militarisation of Australian History" by Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds documents the connection. It is the fruit of a calculated and much funded cultural policy by the war promoting governments of Howard, Rudd and Gillard.
What is to be done? How do we faith based peacemakers normalise peace?
At a retreat called Putting an End to War at the Australian Quaker Centre near Bungedore last Anzac weekend, I had a vision of transforming the existing war-affirming liturgy of the Anzac commemoration, not by countering what exists but rather by adding to it with another event.
To wit, a mass lantern-lit peace parade and vigil on Anzac Day eve at which the voices of soldiers who went to war and returned and spoke for peace are recalled.
Consider this a call to all citizens of goodwill and good faith to become bearers of light for peace on Anzac Day eve next.
How might Interfaith Forum help?
It would be affirming to have your official support and endorsement for the event.
It would be very helpful if you could promote the event by advertising it in your networks of association.
It would be very, very helpful if individual members of the Forum, their families, associates in faith and friends help with the lantern making in the lead up.
A central lantern making workshop will be set up next month (I am still seeking an appropriate location) and individuals and groups, young and old, Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Sikkh, Buddhist, or Muslim, indeed anyone and everyone who wants to work for peace, will be invited to give time to help with the lantern making. Here is a photo of the lanterns I plan to mass produce, these at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on Australia Day eve.
The making itself will an opportunity for meetings and networking amongst peace activists and it will also offer opportunities for media promotion.
It is possible that the lantern making could be mobile, going to and setting up in schools and with particular activity groups of one kind or another. But easier for this master lantern maker if the would-be lantern makers came to the workshop than he packs/unpacks to take the lantern making elsewhere.
Everywhere I speak about this proposal in Canberra it is received with enthusiasm - the sign of an idea whose time has come.
And it is yet an evolving plan. For example yesterday at a meeting of women peace activists at the Emmaus Church in Dicksen, it was suggested that the Peace Vigil should assemble on top of Mt Ainslie at sunset and process down the mountain to behind the War Memorial and go onto a nearby assembly area. How spectacular that would be with 500 lanterns!
The planning and organisation has only just begun. I see it evolving, growing and going national over the next few years. 10,000 lanterns nationally on Anzac Day eve 2015, the centenary of the Gallipoli landing.
Best we can.
0407 951 688