For July 27-29 Scottish CND held a Peace Academy in Glasgow. Christian CND Co-Chair Martin Birdseye was one of the speakers, here he reflects on his weekend.
When I look back on this long weekend in Glasgow I can see that for three days I was part of a learning community, one that included all the speakers, trainers, organisers, Scottish CND’s team of helpers, the sixty or more young delegates (aged 18 to 30) and even the politicians. Indeed it would have been hard to attend this event without learning something useful and then gaining some of the skills and the motivation to do something about it. That is a measure of the achievement of the Academy, billed as – “A 3 day youth-training programme on all aspects of campaigning work, focusing on the nuclear disarmament movement.”
Mixing plenary and breakout sessions in accordance with the needs of the topic, it covered all the background on nuclear weapons, communication, lobbying, grassroots campaigning, legislative change, ‘online engagement’, fundraising, and the Christian CND contribution: “Moral Arguments in Campaigning”. For this I had three short sessions, each well attended. We looked at the role of ethics in the nuclear weapons debate and then, starting from a personal algorithm – the “Nuclear Morality Flowchart” (http://nuclearmorality.com/), we made some practical progress on nuclear ethics for ourselves. We looked at how to apply these methods to campaigning on nuclear weapons and possible uses in other areas of peace, social justice and environmental campaigning.
I was not quite the oldest person there. Possibly the real highlight came from Ieshima Masashi who was three years old when an atomic bomb was exploded over his home city of Hiroshima. He survived but lived with the consequences for himself and his family. One of a now diminishing number of Hibakusha he is a dedicated witness to this horror, still travelling the world to help save the rest of humanity from the menace of the 15,000 remaining nuclear weapons.
On the third day we travelled together to Faslane Peace Camp and the Faslane nuclear submarine base. We could see there the huge installation necessary for maintaining even the so-called “minimum” UK nuclear weapons capability, in its incongruous setting of a beautiful Scottish loch. This was not an occasion for action against the base but for practical first-hand accounts of how non-violent direct action and witness can be done – a very effective end to the whole training course.