Help PMA grow | Petition forms | Site map | PMA main page
Speech at peace vigil
17 September 2001
Kia ora tatou
When I was asked to speak tonight as a peace person I was hesitant to say yes. There has been such a mass of words and images presented in the last week that has left me reeling. There has been so much polarisation, good and evil, right and wrong. I'm wishing for some silence, for someone to pause, to stop a moment and think about what is happening. I agreed though because I've also been thinking about the levels we can respond on and trying to answer the questions of "Where am I in this?", "What do can I do in a situation that seems so out of control?". Expressing views that differ from those that we are being bombarded with is important at this time. Silence infers compliance with the dominant voice.
It seems vital to keep in mind that two wrongs don't make a right. There needs to be learning and so it is important to ask why the United States should have been attacked in such a devastating way, and how a re-occurrence can be prevented. The best hope for a de-escalation of this sort of terrorism is to try and understand the possible reasons why it is happening. One reason is that there are many people in many countries of the world who have been affected by the US policy of bombing rather than negotiation. China, Cambodia, Korea, Guatemala, Congo, Peru, Indonesia, Cuba, Vietnam, Grenada, Libya, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan among them. Former President Jimmy Carter stated "We have only to go to Lebanon, to Syria, to Jordan to witness first hand the intense hatred among many people for the United States, because we bombed and shelled and unmercifully killed totally innocent villagers... as a result we have become a kind of Satan in the minds of those who are deeply resentful. That is what precipitates the taking of hostages and terrorist attacks"
If we sincerely want a more peaceful and secure world, those countries and corporations which hold the power need to find a better way of enabling us all to live together on this planet. It is not only the bombing that causes resentment, it is also the economic control, another form of violence, that is exerted on the many by the few. If the world was a village of 100 people right now, 6 of those people would have 59% of the entire world's wealth and they would all be from the United States.
The United States with the support of the member states of the United Nations should have the courage to find ways to break the cycle of violence and retribution and to help achieve a more equitable sharing of the worlds resources.
The concern that many people share right now is that it does not seem to matter how the message is given about this by the all those who are expressing concern and asking for change, no notice seems to be taken.
What for me has been most helpful this week has been the many emails presenting alternative views. I encourage those of you who have been reading those messages to share them with others and to print them out for people who don't have email. To share that voice. To support independent media sources. To access information on sites such as Indymedia and Peace Movement Aotearoa. To contact local MPs and the Prime Minister to express your views and to urge them to call for an international response that breaks the cycle of responding to violence with violence.
We also need to learn from our own responses to this situation. If we are committed to peace we need to be committed to applying the same principles in our own lives and in our own communities that we are asking others to adhere to at this time. Principles of respect, understanding and non-violence.