The meeting opened with thoughtful prayers and readings.
The first session consisted of a briefing highlighting the concerns of a number of campaigning groups of the negotiations between the EU and USA of a new trade partnership. The transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP)
The aim of the partnership is to increase trade through deregulation by harmonising regulations in the environment, food safety, workers rights and finance and giving corporation’s the right to sue governments over decisions which harm their profits. There is widespread concern that this “boost” for trade may be at great cost to individual workers, threatening labour rights, opening public services to international competition and lowering standards of environmental protection and even countries rights to self determination, so democracy itself. Despite the enormous significance of these reforms very little seems to be known about it by national politicians, as much of the negotiating is being done in secret in Europe. There was an urgent request to become better informed on this issue and contact MPs to take a more active interest in the negotiations to safeguard our rights. More information can be found at www.TTIP.org.uk
The main presentation for the morning session was a very thought provoking talk by Oliver McTernan, director of ‘Forward Thinking’, working world wide in conflict resolution and reconciliation. The title title was “Peace as a fruit of Remembrance” opening with a quotation from Populorum Progressio as a useful focus for consideration, “Peace means far more than a precarious truce. Peace is the fruit of anxious daily care to see that everyone lives in the justice as God intends.” (This is Progress: Progression, 76: 2006)
Peace cannot be imposed it needs to take root in a quality of life where each individual can fulfil their human potential. Solutions need to be rooted in justice and inclusive; what is needed is a wide approach to engage with everyone, even the most extreme so everyone is committed and feels heard. As with plants to produce fruit it take time- roots of peace need to develop.
Related to this is the sometimes uncomfortable process of remembrance, which when too narrowly viewed can be seen as glorification of war rather then the remembrance of a tragedy of loss, a sacrifice of lives.
Externally viewed remembrance parades may seem like glorification but tap into the back story. For example a 80 year old man in Islington who came one day a year to church on Remembrance Sunday. He felt he needed to be there to ask for forgiveness for all the young men he had killed. For 60 years this man had carried this burden of conscience that he had deprived other men of their future, their life. Oliver remembered this man’s story and those of others with similar burdens.
Engaging fully in rightful remembrance and the reality of the consequences and the regret of say WW1, a disaster for humanity, not an annual glorification but a remembering of the brutality of war can be a catalyst for peace. If we return to the daily care needed for everyone to live in “the Justice in which God intends” then remembrance is part of this, true remembrance not glorification should stop the cycle of violence and stop war.
The discussion afterwards was raised some of the tension in remembrance between glorification, living with horror, seeking repentance and forgiveness. Highlighting the need to be very sensitive to those caught up in war. In Oliver’s experience these most honest, open and with a deeply held morality about the consequences of their actions are soldiers themselves. He recognises that people do not choose to sacrifice their lives, they are taken, sometimes people may act heroically in a particular situation for comrades but this is not the same. Reflection and healing is needed. Engaging in private reflection of remembrance, for each of us has a memory of conflict not always war but maybe in our family, deal with the scars and the consequences – from these fruits we need to strive for peace.
It was quite poignant at this point, as we approach the end of November, the month of remembrance that Pat Gaffney highlighted that the packs for Peace Sunday where being sent out this week ready 18th January. So we can all consider how best to make Peace a fruit our remembrance.
After a chatty lunch, when we had the chance to met with people and enjoy Maria and…… 50th wedding anniversary cake we had the chance to each say what we had been doing and our concerns.
- CAFOD reported on changes proposed an highlighted that there was the opportunity to respond to their plans. This year CAFOD will give a grant to NJPN but this may well not continue in future. Save the date of 17th June as big day in London for the Climate change campaign.
- A paper from Pope Francis is expected on Climate Change next year and NJPN have sent a letter with our comments to contribute to this. A number of issues were discussed
- the AEFJN shared their two very interesting work books available price 10 Euros each. ( www.aefjn.org/)
- The Columbian missionaries are looking for young people to travel to the Mexican US border for Easter http://www.columbans.co.uk/.
- The WDM is changing it’s name to Global Justice Now http://www.wdm.org.uk/
- Another date for your diary on 11th March 2015 St Matthias Lecture 2015: Can religion be a force for good in international relations? Bishop Declan http://info.uwe.ac.uk/events/event.aspx?id=16361
- CND meeting in Oxford
The final session of the day include NJPN reports.
Treasurer’s Report: reminded us of the need to raise revenue to remain viable
Conference 2016: was discussed possible ideas were around the family- rights and responsibilities, democracy and civic society, or climate and the environment.
The Environment Working Party: had met and have some information available on fracking
The future direction of The Ethical Investment Group was discussed, following the retirement of the Convenor.
Web site: Is currently being updated and work on this is ongoing.
There seemed to still be plenty to discuss when the meeting closed at 4pm.