Monday 31 January 2011

Anzac Eve Peacemaker Lantern Vigils, Easter Sunday, 24 April 2011

Here is the vision outlined in brief by my friend, the persistent peacemaker, master lantern maker, and experienced event organizer, Graeme Dunstan. This vision first emerged during a gathering of peacemakers at Silver Wattle on the edge of Lake George last year over Anzac Weekend. (See the background report on all that right here.)

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.

For peace!

Graeme Dunstan
0407 951 688

Friday 28 January 2011

Religious Themes & the Continual Right-ward Drift in The State of the Union

Living afar and not hearing it live, I was quite intrigued by reading these two analyses of the State of the Union address by the POTUS earlier this week.

Religion in Politics: "The State of the Future" highlight all the weirdness and "drift" in the ever-changing landscape of American politics (more easily perceived from a vantage point outside the country, in my personal opinion) I recommend reading Rachel Maddow's assessment.  Her thesis: that Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower - if living in America today - would certainly now be considered a radical Lefty!  

I look forward to some more conversation about all this, so...any comments from the peanut gallery, for starters?
-Clair in Canberra

Wednesday 26 January 2011

The Latest Word Regarding Gene Stoltzfus' Collected Writings on Peacemaking

The Create Space team realizes that a book about Gene’s writings on peacemaking is niche. As such, we have taken 3 concrete steps to help you easily introduce this book and the topic of peacemaking to your friends and family: 

1. A video clip promoting Create Space for Peace at This 2-min clip has received rave reviews. It distills peacemaking succinctly and captures the ethos of Gene’s book. I am deeply appreciative of friends at Big Red Button in Singapore for volunteering their time and talent to produce this brilliant clip. 

2. A blog post explaining What is Peacemaking and Why a Book about Gene. 

3. A free 3-page sampler. Using specific, real-world examples, this 3-page PDF gives a flavor of Gene’s peace works and makes clear why Gene’s words and actions are antidote and salve against the onslaught of violence and injustice. This 3-pager is in final review and will be made available as a free download in the next week or so. 

Our hope is that the above whets your appetite and makes it easy for you to help spread the word about Create Space. 

PS: A reminder that we are accepting discounted pre-orders (minimum 15 copies) at And if you're thinking about organizing a book event in your area, I’d like to hear about it. Do drop me an e-mail. 

Best regards, 

Banksy's Dove on the Wall of Separation in Palestine/Israel

Banksy dove

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Thousands of Egyptian Muslims showed up to defend Coptic Christians from further terrorism while attending their masses

It is a frequent complaint among opinion makers in the United States that the global Muslim community does not condemn and prevent terrorism. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has even said that Islam needs a civil war similar to the one the United States fought in order to deal with its extremists. But the truth is that moderate and progressive Muslims all over the world are battling extremism! 

In the United States, one-third of al-Qaeda related terror plots have been broken up thanks to intelligence provided by Muslim Americans. It is up to the press to report these positive stories and not exaggerate the sway that extremists hold over the global Muslim community.

Here is an important story reported on by Al Jazeera English recently that has hardly gotten out into the mainstream media, when thousands of Egyptian Muslims showed up to defend Coptic Christians from further terrorism while attending their masses.  We regularly watch AJ here in Australia to get the real news.

Monday 10 January 2011

The violence-inciters kill more than individuals; they murder the heart of a nation's dreams and aspirations...

In view of the terrible violence in Arizona on the weekend, I want to quote parts of what Mark Karlin, editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote yesterday:

Where does one start in the wake of the political killing spree that occurred in Arizona on Saturday?
With John Wilkes Booth putting a bullet into the head of Abraham Lincoln?
With the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy?
With the shooting of Martin Luther King?

The right-wing culture of hate and implicit coded call to kill the enemy, as if on a mission from God, is a subset of our larger national culture of violence.

From our policy of maintaining superpower status through wars and coups to going back to the conquest of America by the slaughter of Native Americans, we have had a history of a large segment of our population that views violence as a remedy for personal and political grievances - as well as the fulfillment of ideological goals. For them, "putting down your enemy" is as American as apple pie.

Whenever it comes to political assassinations - and the senior federal judge of Arizona was killed on Saturday, along with the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the deaths of others - the shills for the establishment of a Christian-white-male-ruled authoritarian society try to distance themselves from the "crazy people" who heed their call and pull the trigger.

Truthout's William Rivers Pitt so poignantly described the devastating results of such a grotesque dynamic in terms of how effective it is as a strategy. 

The violence-inciters kill more than individuals; they murder the heart of a nation's dreams and aspirations.