Last week I attended my first Anglican Pacifist Fellowship gathering in Oxford to celebrate 80 years of the movement. As I breathed the air of this great heritage, I sensed the crosswinds of two weather systems in the conversations and presentations I encountered.
The atmosphere was alive and I detected currents blowing both backwards and forwards.
Some of us were describing the scene gazing into the rear view mirror to the sepia tone filtered First World War.I learnt something of the counter cultural community who said ‘no’ to the conscript because of a prior ‘yes’ to their conscience, rooted in an understanding of Jesus and his expectations. This was the foundation of the movement and the template for going forward.
As I spoke with others, I also felt a building positive storm towards the abolition of war altogether; not just individuals renouncing soldier status but the military machine and all of its component parts being disbanded, or perhaps re-purposed with a new ambition and redeemed vocation.
The 2014 book ‘Radical Imagination’ by Zed books encourages those in social movements to build resistance and resilience by travelling into the future and taking a good look around before returning and reverse engineering the necessary steps of engagement in the direction of the hoped for vision.
And the book also encourages us to travel into the past and learn from the pioneers. This is not to copy those men and women but to imitate their process; their methodology of wrestling with the challenges of their day and how they discerned the right steps for them and for then.
The challenges of our fore-mothers in regarding peace and war won’t be the same as the complexity our granddaughters may face, especially with remote and digital warfare, and the possible advent of unknowns like strong A.I.
I have only just joined the conversation and need to do a lot of listening. I am glad to realise I am not alone in figuring out how we collectively follow the Prince of Peace gathering momentum, and eventually the masses, to one day instituting the First World Peace.