Activism and... Joy

IssueDecember 2007 - January 2008

Throughout the court case the people of Liverpool came up trumps, a higgledy-piggledy tapestry of different characters and communities and politics: the Catholics with their rituals of remembrance, the ravers with their repetitive antimilitarist beats, the Quakers with their silence, the local pagans with their reverence and mischief, the local socialists and feminists, the Buddhist nuns and monks and punks from further afield. All were present to support four women on trial for disarming a Hawk warplane destined for Indonesia.

All present in solidarity with the people of East Timor who knew the shape and shadow of the Hawk all too well. And when the verdict of the twelve local jurors emerged from the courthouse, it was like the unleashing of a brilliant song - and we all held hands and literally spiralled around in joy. And although the Irish Centre was having its AGM, the members graciously gave way to our need for a building in which to celebrate.

The Drums of Gandhi were soon echoing from the high ceilings and conversation and drink and dance and smiles flowed into the night. War is the antithesis of joy: it disfigures the human spirit, the human body and the earth upon which we live. Maybe activism is about creating the conditions in which human joy - our own included - can thrive.
Male, careworker, Oxford

As the three of us worked our way along the wall, the realisation gradually dawned on me that we were going to succeed; we were actually going to paint a 100-foot-long slogan in four-foot-high words on the side of an aircraft hangar in the middle of a high-security zone inside a US Air Force base. I'd been enraged by the lies around the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987, which removed certain ground-launched nuclear missiles from Europe, but which did not destroy a single nuclear warhead, and by the way those lies had helped to demobilise the disarmament movement.

It was my first arrestable action. We entered USAF Upper Heyford at dawn (through unauthorised holes in several fences) and proceeded to the high-security area where nuclear-capable aircraft were stationed. Nuclear warheads taken from ground-launched nuclear missiles were going to return to Europe as air-launched bombs, carried by these F-111s. As we painted “INF SHAM - No Air-Launched Cruise Missiles Here (Or Anywhere Else)” all along the hangar wall, the security system whirred into action, and we heard military police driving frantically towards us, sirens blaring. Still painting carefully, Stephen murmured: “They're playing our song.”
Male, editor, St Leonards-on-Sea

Topics: Activism
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