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Speech to rally in Wellington
Margaret Mander

27 October 2001

I am Margaret Mander a member of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, a minority group within the Church, but with beliefs which I support wholeheartedly as I oppose war and all preparation to wage war.

My pacifist conviction grew when I was challenged as a student by the courage and commitment of Christians whose oppositon to World War II had led to their detention in camps or prisons. Some of those people had fought in WWI, seeing that as being their duty to God and country, but after experiencing that war, the War to end all War, they had become disillusioned by the horror, the waste and the futility of it.

My pacifist conviction grew as I read the Gospels and accepted the teaching and methods of Jesus Christ who while strongly opposing hypocrisy and evil, was challenging and convincing in what He said about enemies - pray for them, treat them mercifully, feed them, forgive them.

My belief in the sacredness of human life grew, and so did my opposition to violence as a means of overcoming the violence of others.

The wars in my lifetime have been immensely destructive - destroying families, creating refugees, obliterating food supplies, enlisting even young children as soldiers.

Like millions of others I did rejoice at some of the so-called victories in the 20th century - but those victories now seem like temporary cessation of conflict, while our attitudes continue to lead us to yet more of the spiralling increase in violence. The shocking tragedy of September 11 was part of the spiral of violence, retaliation and evil. Justice is desperately needed - justice for those who died that day, but also justice for those in the interminable conflict between Israel and Palestine; justice for the children of Iraq, killed by the sanctions following the Gulf War.

Even preparation to wage war deprives so many of a full life.. Last year global military spending amounted to $3,591,324 .. every minute of every day, and every minute of every day 22 children under five died from mainly preventable causes - lack of food, clean water and basic medicines.

Where is our respect for the sanctity of human life?

And right now missiles and bombs are devastating Afghanistan ... maybe some have successfully hit the desired targets, but they have also destroyed the lives of the innocent, and the sources of aid by destroying in the past night three Red Cross warehouses.

Retaliation is not justice. It does not prove who the guilty are; it does not bring them before a court. Instead of redressing the evil, it increases the suffering not only of possible perpetrators, but also of thousands of innocent - children and women as well as men.

So let's encourage our government to say No to war, and Yes to conciliation, negotiation and positive peace-making.

Kia Ora.

Margaret Mander (Anglican Pacifist Fellowship)

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