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Billy King


Nonviolence News



These are regular editorials produced alongside the corresponding issues on Nonviolent News.

Issue 126: February 2005

Also in this editorial

Soon, another tsunami

The tsunami of 26th December last in south-east Asia wreaked death, destruction and devastation wherever it visited, with upwards of a quarter of a million people killed. It was a natural phenomenon which would have happened irrespective of what human beings happened to be doing. But not all the effects were devoid of human interference. Obviously the fact that citizens from fifty countries were killed is a reflection of global travel and the worldwide tourist industry. But destruction of mangrove swamps, and damage to coral reefs, both at times associated with the same tourist industry, exacerbated the effects. And the lack of adequate defences was due not just to it being a once in a century occurrence but also to the relative poverty of the main countries involved. It needs to be ensured that adequate warning systems and adequate shelters should not be dependent on countries ability to pay.

But there is a bigger problem, a much bigger problem on a global scale. With rising sea levels much of the area devastated by the tsunami will become under water or at risk from normal sea movements - as well, or course, as coastal areas around the world. Many of the beaches on which tourism depends will simply disappear (they may in time reappear higher up but with rising tides the coastal situation will be a mess for decades, until decades or centuries after humanity takes action to stabilise the situation and the globe eventually responds). The sea/land interrelationship is about to be disturbed in what will be a shocking and worrying time, unprecedented in known history.

While inhabitants of low-lying areas will generally have time to move elsewhere in an ordered fashion, where will they go? Bangladesh, one of the most populous countries with very low-lying land, does not have the luxury of lots of space for those affected to move to. Whole islands (such as the Indian Nicobar and Andaman islands affected by the tsunami) will simply disappear. The rich countries (such as ourselves) who have done most to cause the problem will haul up their drawbridges and defend their own, with occasional gestures to salve their consciences.

Where will it end? We cannot tell. The process of global warming is well under way and still the response from those who have the money, but not the sense, to take effective action, is paltry. We sometimes think of particular eras in the past as being barbarian, uncouth, with savage people doing savage deeds. But none of these eras has succeeded in doing what we have done, disturbing the balance of life on earth so much that a significant amount of life, human and otherwise, is threatened with possibly centuries of instability. If you want barbarians, try us and our 'civilisation'.

Nota bene
The robbery of £26 million pounds in banknotes (only about £10 million of which could be used by the robbers) before Christmas from the Northern Bank in Belfast was a heist and a half. The fallout from that raid will continue to be felt for a considerable time. Even if devolved government had once again evolved in Northern Ireland, and the Assembly was about to take off again with the DUP and Sinn Féin as top dogs, it would have revolved back again to direct rule. It must be assumed that Sinn Féin involvement in a government in Northern Ireland, through unionist acceptance from either major brand (DUP or Ulster Unionist) or rather lack of it, is at least another year or two away.

Sinn Féin leaders have issued many protestations of innocence while Chief Constable of the PSNI, Hugh Orde, was put on the spot to name the culprits. And he named the IRA. There are many questions here - was Hugh Orde right (possibly) but also was he right and accurate, in other words, what part of the IRA was involved, if any, and who authorised it? Was it a relatively freelance operation by some members a) fundraising for their retirement while b) discomfiting the leadership of the IRA and Sinn Féin who knew nothing about it? The idea that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness would agree with such an operation which they would realise would totally jeopardise their position does not seem at all logical.

While the 'peace process' has had many a faltering step in Northern Ireland, it has been predicated on the assumption that Sinn Féin 'can deliver' in terms of the cessation of violence. If that is not the case, and parts of the IRA are beyond the political reach of Sinn Féin, that is indeed a worrying situation and one which would have long term consequences. The 'peace process' may have numerous more twists and turns yet.

George and Tony's war for terrorism

It is not always that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agrees with our analysis, or us with it. However a recent future-scoping report looking into the next couple of decades details the 'terrorists' of the future; Iraq and other possible conflicts "could provide recruitment, training grounds, technical skills and language proficiency for a new class of terrorists who are 'professionalised' and for whom political violence becomes an end in itself." Those who have fought in Iraq could disperse around the world and increasingly their planning and training will be less geographically based thanks to the internet. In other words, we can say that the USA and UK by their war in Iraq have advanced the cause of international 'terrorism' considerably. The graduates of Iraq will replace the generation of those who were graduates of the war against the USSR in Afghanistan so far as Islamic military militants are concerned.
An important argument of the peace movement against the war in Iraq was that military intervention would, far from stemming 'terrorism', give it an enormous boost as the US and UK set international law to one side, as indeed they did with international public opinion and international morality. A key part of the old Christian 'Just War Theory' (which, incidentally INNATE does not subscribe to as a code since it is too limited and has been used as a charter for war making and not a code for peace keeping) is proportionality in response to aggression (a proportion of good over evil). Other key points include there must be a declaration of war by the king (ruler), it must be a last resort, there must be a good intention on the side declaring war, and there must be protection of the innocent; the war in Iraq clearly fails most of these tests.
George Bush proclaims his Christianity avidly, and Tony Blair is Christian but does not flaunt it in the same way, but it is clear neither knows anything significant of Christian teaching in relation to war. And George Bush's version of Christianity really is a 'Crusader' mentality, fighting militarily for the faith, analogous within Islam to the (we would argue mistaken also) understanding of 'jihad' as military rather than spiritual struggle. The 'Crusader' mentality is a complete negation of the Christian message.

If a couple of thousand people were killed in 9/11 in the USA, one to three (or more) times that number of civilians were killed in the one US assault on Falluja alone - civilians who had utterly no connection, directly or even indirectly through the involvement of their country, with 9/11 attacks on the USA. And that is only in one battle. The response of the USA and its allies is totally disproportionate to anything which was originally done; but unlike the images of 9/11 which filled the TV screens of the globe for months, how many have seen the carnage and corpses from Falluja? The US and UK might have 'won' that battle (in a case of Falluja, 'to save the city it was necessary to destroy it', cf "In order to save the village, we had to destroy it" the Vietnam War) but they have been losing the war, if you define that in their terms as a 'war on terrorism', notwithstanding recent elections in Iraq and the courage of Iraqi people in coming out to vote. The biggest 'terrorists' and promoters of 'terrorism' in all its forms are proving to be those who proclaim their opposition to terrorism and their support for democracy. And that is a big problem for those who really want to remove the causes of 'terrorism' and who believe in democracy. With 'friends' like George and Tony, who needs enemies? But enemies we will get.

Eco Awareness Eco Awareness
with Larry Speight

The beginning of a new year is a traditional time for making resolutions. There is the sense that we can begin again and live a more meaningful life through better use of our skills and resources as well as been more generous, patient and empathic. The root of this desire for a fresh start might well be triggered by such factors as our emergence from the depths of winter darkness, the realization that our planet is once again moving towards the light and warmth of spring, and with other life-forms we can be reborn. When we think of resolutions for 2005 we should include aims and vows that will improve our relationship with our neighbours and the biosphere as well as our personal circumstances. Some of the things we might consider doing are the following:

  1. Help people in the poor regions of the world through buying fair trade products. See the Fairtrade Foundation website at
  2. Put our savings into a bank that abides by an ethical policy and works for positive change. Two such banks are; Triodos Bank, see, and Charity Bank at
  3. Obtain our domestic energy from a renewable source, such as a wind farm. For a list of suppliers contact Friends of the Earth at
  4. Use energy saving light bulbs. According to the Energy Saving Trust ( if every home in the UK used three energy efficient bulbs we would save enough energy to power all the streetlights in the country, save money and reduce greenhouse emissions.
  5. Save water through taking a shower rather than a bath, and place a litre plastic bottle in your lavatory cistern. Contact, Thames Water, for energy saving ideas:
  6. Donate money to a charity such as Water Aid who assist some of the 2.6 billion people who lack access to clean water and proper sanitation, see
  7. Minimize our impact on eco-systems through reducing what we buy, reuse and recycle.
  8. Walk, cycle and use public transport rather than a car, which will help keep us healthy, save us money and cut down on greenhouse emissions. As a point of interest Ireland is a more car dependent country than Britain and the United States.
  9. Plant a native tree on an occasion of celebration and give trees as gifts. Contact the Wood Land Trust:
  10. Become more mindful, as in seeing things as they really are, rather than interpreting things in a way that reinforces uncritically examined beliefs.

I wish everyone a happy New Year.

Quaker 'Consensus'
This short item forms a PS or addition to the INNATE documentation on consensus (which forms some of the most downloaded material from the INNATE website).

Quakers, members of the Religious Society of Friends, tend not to talk about 'consensus' as such; they would define the process more in terms of 'waiting on the Spirit' or 'listening to the Spirit'. However, an outsider might label their approach as a consensus one since the aim, through both silence and words, is to arrive at an agreement acceptable to all through an equitable process.

Their approach is well explained on the Glasgow Friends website which details how Quakers handle business meetings. If anyone is interested we would recommend checking out the information there directly but what follows is a very brief summary of some of the more important points.

There is silence at the start of a business meeting and in between people speaking, and such meetings are regarded as worship. Openness and attentive listening are expected of everyone attending. One person will normally only speak one time on one item of business (unless replying to a question or stating a matter of fact). Opposing views are welcomed but it is not an argument - a point emphasised by the silence between speakers. The clerk of the meeting has various functions, including drafting a minute of decisions, and while not a conventional convenor or chair can shape the debate but needs to try to discern the collective mind of the meeting. The clerk exercises their skill, at the appropriate time, in drawing up a minute which reflects the will of the meeting, even if it is that it cannot come to a decision. The clerk can call for silence if feelings on an issue get heated.

It might be added that while the Quaker worshipful ethos is not something which is easily translatable to other contexts, some of the above techniques can be used in any context, such as only speaking once or silence in between speakers, and expecting attentive listening is nowadays a common part of group contracts/agreements at the start of a group process.

Copyright INNATE 2021