Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 3, 2003
People power pushes peace
Speak out and claim your right for a world without war
By SUZANNE ELSTON
On Feb. 15, over 10 million people around the world gathered in cities, towns and villages to protest the pending war against Iraq. From the million souls who marched the streets of London, Rome and Madrid, to the hundreds of people who gathered in countless small hamlets and communities across Canada, the message was the same - we don't want a war.
This global event marked the single largest simultaneous peace demonstration in history - a remarkable achievement and a testimony to the networking power of electronic mail.
What made the events of Feb. 15 unique was that they were not static events, but rather a call to action beyond the day itself. Unlike the love-ins of the '60s and '70s, protestors clearly made the connection between the potential war in Iraq and our own patterns of over-consumption and exploitation of the world's resources. Marches were followed by teach-ins that gave protestors practical suggestions for waging peace.
It's very easy to talk about peace when you have a full belly and a home to live in. Peace is possible when education, health care and personal freedom are considered your God-given rights, not some rare privilege.
When we look at the uneven distribution of wealth, the exploitation of natural resources and the degradation of our environment, it is easy to understand why there is little peace in the world today. There can be no peace when 20 per cent of the world's population exploits 86 per cent of the world's natural resources.
There can be no peace when a country like the U.S., which has just six per cent of the world's population, consumes 30 per cent of the world's energy.
There can be no peace when a billion people are suffering from obesity in the developed world, while an equal number are starving to death in the developing world.
There can be no peace when a year's expenditures on international peacekeeping by the United Nations is equal to only three hours of the world's expenditures on national military forces.
In 2003, the United States government will spend $437 billion on its military - more than all the rest of the countries on earth combined. According to UN estimates, less than 10 per cent of this amount, or approximately $40 billion, would provide the essentials of life for everyone on the planet. Ironically, $40 billion is also the amount of funding initially requested to underwrite the U.S.'s retaliatory attack on Afghanistan.
To quote George Bush, "Make no mistake" - this war isn't about evil Iraqis - it's about oil and money and power. So, from some of the rallies staged on Feb. 15, here's a few suggestions for how we can all learn to wage peace:
Cut energy consumption, acknowledge our privilege as residents of a wealthy nation and make appropriate changes to the way we live. Feed the hungry to help ease world tension. Phone the White House and tell them what you think (202-456-1111). Email the members of the UN Security Council and tell them we don't want a war (see the following addresses).
Don't let your kids play video games that glamourize war, park your car and take public transit, walk your kids to school (instead of driving them) and turn off the lights and any electronic devices when you leave a room. Figure out how much money you'll save and donate it to an organization that provides relief to the world's poor.
Emails of the week:Contact info for members of the UN Security Council (Ambassador, email)
Ambassador M. Jean-Marc de La Sabliere - (email@example.com) (veto power)
Ambassador Mr. Sergey Lavrov - firstname.lastname@example.org (veto power)
Ambassador Wang Yingfan - email@example.com (veto power)
Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock - firstname.lastname@example.org (veto power)
Ambassador Mr. Stefan Tafrov - email@example.com
Ambassador Martin Belinga Eboutou - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ambassador M. Francois Lonseny Fall - email@example.com
Embajador Adolfo Aguilar Zenser - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ambassador Dr. Mikhail Wahbi - email@example.com
Ambassador Dr. Ismael Gaspar Martins - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdes - email@example.com
Ambassador Dr. Gunter Pleuger - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ambassador Inocencio F. Arias - email@example.com
Ambassador Munir Akram - firstname.lastname@example.org
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