Archives for December 2005

What Happens to Us – Epictetus

“We are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens to us.”
Epictetus

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Letter to the Editor, Macleans: CPT in Iraq

The evidence counters Charlie Gillis’ view that CPT in an Arab World is a grave error, as evidenced by the kidnappings of four of their members. Since the kidnappings Muslim clerics, organisations and even prisoners of ‘Christian’ countries, both in Iraq, and also around the world, have come forward of their own free will to entreat the captors to release the Christian hostages. Isn’t this the clearest possible evidence of the success of the peacemakers, even as they are held hostage? Where have we yet seen an outpouring of genuine support for Westerners of any kind in Iraq by religious authorities? Their past actions, and their current ordeal, are acting as global conductors for a shared empathy and concern, regardless of faith or nationality.

The implications of Mr. Gillis’ final sentence, “it’s safe to assume that supplying pawns for a cruel trade in human lives was not what he [Ghandi] had in mind.” are outrageous. He just finished writing that CPT has only 40 full-time members, a group of people amounting to one large classroom – globally. He also wrote that CPT has a rigorous training program (which indeed it does). He further cited the ages of the four so-called ‘pawns’ whose lives are being ‘cruelly traded’: 41, 32, 74, and 54, the average of which is fifty. Which of the forty people making up this classroom of fifty year olds has this extraordinary cruel power to treat them all as pawns?

Jim Loney, one of the hostages (a tender 41 year old pawn), is a personal friend whom I had the good fortune to live with in Toronto in his early days of activism. He has determinedly and rigorously learned the skills of peacemaking, applying them both to his daily life and relations, and also into the dangerous quagmire of war and oppression, for two decades. To imply that he’s a ‘pawn’ in someone elses cruel mission demonstrates an astonishing lack of understanding, to say nothing of genuine research.

Finally, I marvel at Mr. Gillis’ queasiness that CPT might be attracting new members as a result of its recent publicity. How nauseating. An organisation rigorously training peacemakers might attract more people wishing to be trained in peacemaking. Imagine, they might even double their numbers, and there would be a hundred of them let loose on the world. The horror, the horror….
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Shaw’s Barbarian

A barbarian is one who “thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.”
George Bernard Shaw

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