Editorial: Plenty of places to start

IssueSeptember 2005
Comment by Kat Barton

Having worked as Editorial Assistant at Peace News for a year now, I've witnessed the hard work and dedication that goes into every issue. I've also observed the quiet way in which one or two ideas for stories will transform into a whole paper full of news. With Ippy taking a well deserved break this month, I fretted over where I would find stories to fill the pages of PN. Like others, I had underestimated the peace movement. Every week, groups of concerned citizens are taking action - whether it's in response to injustice or to show that another way is possible.

Reasons to act

This month I was struck by the number of reasons to act. In a month, we have seen an assault on many of the rights that are fundamental to the working of a democracy. Under the guise of preventing terrorism, our right to protest has been curtailed; formally in the case of the ban on protesting outside Parliament, and informally in the case of a peaceful demonstration abruptly halted by police. In addition, the police response to July's bombings has already resulted in the death of an innocent man executed by trigger-happy police operating a "shoot-to-kill" policy.

This erosion of our civil liberties and the use of fear to cajole people into supporting blatantly repressive policies is not new. However, the speed and ease with which these things are happening is; and this is of grave concern. These things have long-term implications not only for the peace movement but for wider society. However, ill-thought-out and hastily rushed-through laws will never succeed fully in doing what they set out to do. The "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act" ( - who are they kidding? - Really!), designed to remove the boil on the government bum that is Brian Haw, has failed in its quest due to a legal loophole.

Strength in diversity

Herein lies our strength. We are creative people, and more likely than most to think outside of the box. We need to use these qualities to challenge the senseless logic on which the government - and the system which sustains - it depend. As the Gleneagles G8 and many other actions have shown, our strength lies in our diversity: of tactics, of ideas, of ideals. This diversity is essential if we are to stay one step ahead of the powers that be. However, our connectedness is also essential. On 13 September, the DSEi arms fair comes to London. This is an opportunity to emphasise the areas on which we agree, whilst retaining our originality in order to carry out successful, innovative actions.

Making connections

Making connections between groups and across issues is imperative, as this year's 60th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki illustrates. It is more than ironic that while the majority of people regard the events as the most shameful and wicked in human history, the British government retains the capability to unleash destruction many times the strength of Little Boy. It is up to the peace movement to make the connections, to oppose the government's attempts to silence us and to utilise our shared skills to ensure that our voices are heard. And remember, there are plenty of places to start!

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