Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 2, 2004
Local Church coalition has alternative vision
Guns dont bring security, it says
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Global security cannot be achieved through militarization, says a local ecumenical group currently part of a Canada-wide campaign to challenge the notion that security can be secured by force.
"Continuing attacks (on other countries) don't bring more security but rather breed more fear and terror," says Rosanne Thede, local chair of KAIROS, a coalition of Church organizations dedicated to promoting human rights, peace and justice.
"We are calling for an alternative vision in which universal respect for human rights and freedom from fear and want are seen as the path to true security."
That vision is at the centre of Kairos' 2003-04 education and action campaign, which includes a postcard campaign called Agenda for Just Peace to be delivered to the federal government.
The campaign's goal is to counteract the prevailing vision that only military force can bring about peace and security, Thede said.
The group maintains that the War on Terror that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, has eroded rather than enhanced true security and peace. "We are seeing an escalation of human rights abuses as well as continuing high levels of violent conflict," says a pamphlet on the campaign.
"After 50 years of painfully slow progress, human rights and global agreements aimed at creating true security are now under serious threat both abroad and at home. Some governments are countering terror with terror and as a result human rights abuses are increasing. Scarce resources are now being used to further increase military capacity, widening the gap between the rich and the poor."
KAIROS, Greek for "a moment of transformation through faith," was established nationally in July 2001 and in Edmonton in January 2002. The coalition brings together 10 previously independent inter-Church coalitions whose concerns and work is similar in nature. KAIROS is sponsored and funded nationally by the mainline Christian churches.
KAIROS-Edmonton is run by a 12-member board with representatives of the Catholic, United, Lutheran and Anglican churches as well as members of the Quakers and other Church-based organizations. Since its local inception, KAIROS has actively opposed the War on Iraq and has held several events focusing on human rights and peace.
On Sept. 27, KAIROS-Edmonton took its education and action campaign to the University of Alberta, as part of the university's International Week. Some 20 students took part in the 90-minute workshop on global security.
In his presentation, KAIROS member Tim Hartnagel expressed fears of an erosion of civil liberties in Canada as a result of the war on terror. "There is a danger that we are going to start repressing our own population in the name of national security, especially certain groups," he said.
Hartnagel, a Catholic sociology professor, also spoke of enormous pressure on Canada to increase its military spending as a way to increase security. He noted the House of Commons defence committee is urging Parliament to increase military spending by 50 per cent in the next three to five years.
"Real security depends on (creating) favourable social, political and economic conditions rather than placing our hopes (for peace) on military action," he told his young audience.
Hartnagel also noted Canada is 10th in the world in terms of the arms trade, with half of the exports going to developing countries, including some where major violations of human rights take place. "By exporting military goods, we are increasing human rights abuses," he said.
Canadians can join in the campaign by signing the Agenda for Just Peace postcard, which praises the Canadian government's stance on the War on Iraq and urges it to continue to take a principled international stand for just peace.
It also calls on the federal government to promote and ensure respect for human rights, to reorient security spending towards social security, to place additional controls on arms exports, to prevent arms sales to repressive governments, to increase aid to the developing world and to cancel 100 per cent of the bilateral and multilateral debts of all low-income countries.
KAIROS is hoping to deliver at least 50,000-signed postcards to the federal government in the fall of 2004. Thede said KAIROS-Edmonton is hoping to contribute at least 2,000 postcards toward that number by June 30.
"We want the Canadian government to look at our vision, which is a vision that leads to a just peace."
For more information on KAIROS-Edmonton, call Rosanne Thede at 461-2237 or Lois Evans at 434-4330.