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A one-hour documentary, Waging Peace: Muslim and Christian Alternatives, is scheduled for broadcasting beginning June 23, 2013, on NBC-TV. Produced on behalf of the Mennonite churches, the program examines courageous threads of peace quietly being sown around the world and will air at the discretion of local NBC affiliates through November 2013.
“I believe we’re at a global crossroads where young professionals will lead us into a new generation, or two or three, of peace and understanding,” says J. E. Rash in the documentary. Rash is president and founder of Legacy International and a lecturer, writer, and consultant in conflict resolution.
A list of stations planning to air the program is available here. at www.interfaithbroadcasting.com. Community members can encourage local NBC stations to air the hour-long program.
Canada's Maclean's Magazine in a May 31, 2013 post reports that a conscientious objector's work boots used during the second World War have become part of a peace exhibit in Canada's Ottawa War Museum.
Reporter Michael Petrou writes that "During the Second World War, conscientious objectors in Canada, including Mennonites and Doukhobors, were allowed to perform peaceful national service work such as logging and farming, rather than combat-related tasks.
"One man who did so was Mennonite Elmon Lichti, who helped build the northern Ontario highway between North Bay and Nipigon. He died in 2005. The following spring, while helping to clean out his house, his children came across an old pair of leather work boots. Lichti had worn them during the war and kept them ever since.
"'They apparently had great emotional staying power for my dad,' says Lichti’s son, Jim.
“'They symbolize service to country in an atypical way. They show that through service and love there are other avenues to peace.'”
The peace exhibit runs until Jan.5, 2014.
But the deep desire by Aboriginals to heal the rift caused by Canadians and their government's refusal to honour 100 year old treaties nonetheless remains vital and vigorous. A new book entitled Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry, about to be released, is an attempt to bridge that divide.
Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry, edited by Steve Heinrichs, is a collection of essays by leaders, thinkers, and authors from Canada's indigenous and white settler communities that plays out as a dialogue on vital matters of land justice, creation and understandings of God. Until June 17, 2013, the book can be pre-ordered at a discounted rate of $21.99 from Herald Press.
It will also be available via popular booksellers.
Judy DaSilva, a First Nations women from Grassy Narrows, Ont., has received the Michael Sattler Peace Prize from the German Mennonite Peace Committee, reported CBC news on May 22, 2013.
Laurens Thiessen van Esch of the German Mennonite Peace Committee (GMPC) said: "We want to award the prize to Judy DaSilva in order to honour the nonviolent resistance of the Grassy Narrows First Nation against the destruction of nature and for the preservation of their Indigenous culture."
DaSilva has helped her community suspend logging on Grassy Narrows territory for nearly five years. A GMPC news release describes DaSilva as a mother of five children, a "humble, passionate and relentless" advocate. DaSilva travelled to Germany to receive the honour.
CBC reports that the Canadian government is making plans to resume logging on First Nation's traditional territory.
"After we went overseas, my comrades began to realize that I would always be there to help them if they got wounded, their attitude changed. They knew I would come to their aid if I possibly could. From then on we had a very good relationship."
Desmond Doss was a conscientious objector in World War II. He wanted to be true to his non-violent religious beliefs, and yet honour his country in service. He decided to serve as a medic, and took the same risks as his armed comrades. He is credited with saving 75 lives, and never took a single life.
People like Doss who are honoured each year on May 15, International Conscientious Objectors Day - for a different kind of bravery: going unarmed into a war zone. "Going into battle helped me to realize how tragic wars, bloodshed and killing are. When anyone is killed it is a tragic thing.
"One day we were given what we thought would be an easy mop-up job. Everything seemed to go wrong... about 75 men were wounded and could not move. I was the only medic and I would not leave my men.
"I stayed on top and let them down one by one over the escarpment, to where they could be taken on down to the aid station.
"I kept praying: 'Lord, help me to get one more.' And He did help me. I got all the men down safely and I did not get a scratch from the bullets that were going near enough that I could practically feel them."
See more stories of conscientious objectors.
"We must understand first that nonviolence is not passivity," writes Todd May, Class of 1941 Memorial Professor of the Humanities at Clemson University, and the author of, most recently, Friendship in the Age of Economics.
His column is in response to the Boston Marathon bombing of April 15, 2013. Refreshingly candid, May concedes non-violence is not a panacea, but rather "a lesson that has become buried under our ideology and our circumstances. We need to learn it anew."
Non-violent peace builders may shy away from forming relationships with veterans or those who serve in the military. Presumably, one would have little in common with those who believe in the use of military force - a point of view so directly opposite.
But associate editor Anna Groff of The Mennonite points out that this need not be so. Her story offers vignettes of numerous individuals who provide care to war veterans through the USA's Veteran Health Administration (VA) hospitals.She writes that "Each day about 18 veterans commit suicide. About one-quarter of returning veterans meet criteria for a mental health disorder. Many face unemployment, divorce, substance abuse and more."
Groff quotes Andrea Wetherald, 24, who works at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and attends Pittsburgh Mennonite Church. Wetherald says, “The best thing Mennonites can do is look through the stereotypes and see an individual — as cliché as it may sound,” she says.
See the full story here for vignettes of others who find their VA work rewarding.
The Canadian Council of Churches has sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper seeking a deeper committment to end the global arms trade.
The Council, which claims to represent 80% od Christians in Canada, is calling on the Prime Minister to "do its utmost to ensure negotiations at the UN Diplomatic Conference in July " by:
- Issuing a prime-ministerial statement emphasizing Canadian support for a strong Arms Trade Treaty and indicating that Canada will not accept treaty text that inadequately responds to the humanitarian costs of irresponsible arms transfers;
- Instructing Minister Baird to take up the invitation to attend the high level segment during the first days of the Diplomatic Conference;
- Instructing the Canadian delegation to the Diplomatic Conference to actively engage and support other states seeking a comprehensive and effective Arms Trade Treaty.
Waterloo, Ont., was the setting for a gathering of Canadian church leaders to consider the challenge of just peacemaking.
The Project Ploughshares web site states, "The two standard ethical paradigms for the ethics of peace and war are pacifism and just war theory. They both intend to prevent some wars or all wars. But they don’t focus our attention on how to prevent wars; they focus on debating whether war is justified or not. Recognizing a practical stalemate between the arguments for pacifism and just war, the theory of just peacemaking seeks to define and implement practices that prevent violent conflict and create peace."
Papers from various church leaders documenting the outcome of the meeting can be found here.
The web site of the U.S. Army reveals that it has signed the first agreement for selective service in the USA in 25 years.
The story says that "... as long as there's been Americans fighting in wars, there have been those who do not object to the idea of serving their country, but do object to the idea of directly killing another human being or being involved in that act. These conscientious objectors are not cowards, said Selective Service Director Lawrence G. Romo, but are simply opposed to the idea of taking another person's life."
Stanley Green, executive director of the Mennonite Mission Network is pictured signing the agreement.with Selective Service Director Lawrence G. Romo.