Monday, April 22, 2013

What working for peace looks like today

MBlessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Here is a letter from Martin Newell, reproduced with permission.

Dear Sir / Madam 
I received your letter dated as above [2nd October 2012], which was in reference to the £445.00 fine that you have been instructed by the courts to try to enforce payment of. Your letter says that you will add £215 to my 'balance if I don't pay within 7 days'.  
Today is an appropriate day for me to write to you, as it is one year to the day since I went to Downing Street with some friends and poured out red paint in the street outside the gates there, to symbolise the blood of the innocent people of Afghanistan, which has been poured out on the streets of their country, at the behest of our UK government, along with the USA and others.  
That day was the 10th Anniversary of the war on Afghanistan, today is the 11th. Today I heard one of the women whose sons went to Afghanistan  with the British army, and came home in a body bag, call for the troops to come home immediately.  
It was for witnessing to my faith in the God of Jesus Christ who refused to be defended by the sword, a God of peace not war, that I was fined, and I will not co-operate with our war making state by paying this fine. I want to try to remain human and faithful, and do penance for my complicity in this war which continues to be waged 'in my name', whether I like it or not, which I don't.  
Although I am a Catholic priest and a member of the Passionist Religious Order, I work as a live-in volunteer, and I live in a shared house with other single people, provided by the London Catholic Worker, which is a voluntary group. Nearly all the property in the house - certainly all the furniture, all the household goods and nearly all the electronic equipment, are the property of the project or the landlord, and not mine. Anyway, leaving that aside, it is all old donated stuff anyway. My own personal property is all in my room, which comprises clothes that are generally old and often second hand and / or donated, or very cheap to start with. I have a few cassette tapes and a 20 year old radio cassette player and an old donated stereo. I have a few books, which are also old and I would think of very little value. The furniture in the room belongs to the project I work for.  
My personal possessions are very limited since I have been committed for many years to a life of voluntary poverty. So is my income. 
I'm willing to go to prison for my beliefs. Since there is nothing here for you to take that has any resale value, you would be waisting your time sending anyone here, and it would be worth your while to return this to the courts. I've been to prison before for similar reasons, so I'm not afraid of it. I am a conscientious objector - I encourage you to make moves in the same direction.  
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you. 
Martin Newell 
Martin, I believe you are an example for many of what it means today to follow Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Lord. Lots of thanks to you for letting me publish it.

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