As a start to my Peace Activism blog I’ll begin by writing a brief autobiographical account of what motivated me to become active in the cause of peace activism.
The short answer is the ‘Peace in Action’ Rotary Peace Communities International Conference 21-23 September 2012 held in Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia organised and hosted by Rotary District 9700, which in essence is the combined Rotary Clubs of Wagga Wagga, of which there are several.
I’ll write of my response to the conference later, but here I’ll simply note that it gave me the stimulus to do something about a long-held but until then dormant desire to do something active to promote peace.
Over the ensuing weeks this eventually settled down to two key components:
1. To volunteer as a peace activist.
2. To undertake formal university level peace studies.
Accordingly I searched the web for peace volunteer opportunities. My preference was for projects in Palestine as I have long been appalled by the Zionist conquest of Palestine and Israel’s subsequent displacement of the Palestinian people, though I thought I should perhaps start closer to home in a country such as Timor Leste, but all the avenues I persued about that country came to nothing (in the sense of dead websites or emails that weren’t responded to), but International Volunteers for Peace (International Voluntary Service) and its on the ground local partner, International Palestinian Youth League, came up trumps with this particular project (more of which later) on which I am about to embark.
So what prevented me becoming a peace activist earlier in my life? Primarilly life, especially work and my career, which, me being me, was all encompassing. After I retired from the university I was still very involved with the Greens, but I also took up a half time job with the National Tertiary Education Union as Organiser for the Charles Sturt University branch, my old employer. I then stood for election to Wagga Wagga City Council in 2008, was elected, and became the city’s first Green and openly gay Councillor – another all-encompassing ‘occupation’, which consumed me until I retired on health grounds early in 2012. Since then I initially focussed on getting well, but now that I have succeeded in doing that I have time and ‘headspace’ to pursue my interest in peace activism.
I guess I’ve always been a pacifist, and because of this my hero is Gandhi, who achieved his goal of Indian independence through non-violence. It is my ardent hope to do all I can to promote and encourage non-violence as a means of solving other independence struggles, as well as ending wars between states.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. – Gandhi