As we appear to fail to learn from history and tumble back towards another war, there are some things that we, people who oppose military intervention, can do:
Engage in Dialogue
Do not allow words of war to trick you into thinking that conflict is our only option and massacres make peace. Of course these issues are complicated. But if you want to stay focussed on your aims for peace and reverence for all life (and that includes lives of those who disagree with you) then you must make sure you keep your conversations respectful and veer away from trading personal insults, even when angry. This distracts from being heard and ultimately has nothing to do with the peace of which we talk of.
Carry on the Conversations
The media will move on, as the bombs start dropping and mother’s begin losing their sons and daughters begin losing their limbs, the media will begin losing interest. When was the last time you heard someone mention the girls kidnapped from the school in Nigeria? Compassion fatigue is very real obstacle towards us relating horrors on other shores to our every day lives. Carry on raising your voices, protest, carry on taking to the streets, be seen as well as heard. As the attention shifts towards nice cosy Christmas images of going to sleep waiting for Santa, make sure we are not forgetting people who cannot get into bed at night safely.
Clear Your Own Doorstep
Peace is not something far away, peace is something which, if we are ever to sustain it, needs to start within ourselves, our hearts, our homes and our everyday lives. Peace is not "out there" in some far off land that needs establishing; it is in the actions (and more importantly the reactions) of 7.3 billion individual people. And you are one of them. Make a firm commitment to rebel against hatred and division with actions not words. Find someone in your personal sphere who you are at war with. Someone you feel hurt by, wronged by. challenged by, even if it is just one person, and put your desire for peace above your need to be right. And let's start a little ripple of peace from our own front doors. It might sound tiny when you look at the bigger picture, but often "the bigger picture" inhibits us from taking any action. Imagine if 50 people stopped hating someone else this evening. Imagine if it was a thousand. It is possible to do this. It is possible to make a significant difference to a more peaceful world. We are all connected, if we set peace as a determination in our hearts as opposed to brutal retaliation, every one of our interactions change and therefore so do the lives of all those we come into contact with.
The tabloids will be having a little hokey cokey between “BACK OUR BOYS!” and “SYRIAN IMMIGRANTS ARE STEALING OUR AIR!”. Do not buy into this narrative. It is inevitable when bombs drop on a country that lots of people will not want to live there any more. Let’s make sure our response to opposing war including supporting those most effected by it. Daesh are not setting up control rooms in the back of BHS in Bedford (yes, someone actually wrote that article), we really are not "full". Make moves to call these preposterous scaremongering tactics out when we see them, and if possible respectfully. No one ever changed their view point because someone else shouted at them that they are a fucking idiot. Try not to make people defensive (even if you think they are being fucking idiots) and get your point, not your ignition, heard. And remember not everyone has read all of the articles that you have, so playing the intelligence high ground makes you look like you are trying to be superior, as opposed to trying to widen understanding and compassion for all of us. And volunteer your money or time where you can. I have friends working really hard for these organisations, if you are not sure where to go, please check them out:
Do Not Disengage
The only people who win wars are arms dealers. Our government lines it’s pockets with machines designed to murder and maim. In 2013 the UK government sold military equipment worth a total of £12.3 bn to countries which are on its own official list for human rights abuses. And they want you to disengage. It is not in their interests for you to pay attention, to take to the streets and to protest. This actually costs them money. And therefore both they, and others, will tell you that protest does not work. That civil disobedience is futile, or quite simply, that you are a “terrorist sympathiser” for wishing everyone have the right to live in a world where lives of all are respected; and this includes not treating people in Syria as collateral damage.
Take action, speak out, do not be disheartened.
Remember we have been in situations which have looked this hopeless and frightening before. We really have tried war. Time and time again. Throughout history, hundreds and thousands of years of throwing things at each other, words, rocks or bombs has not created a world which is safe for us all. Until that is achieved, we all need to actively engage in creating peace with our words, deeds, and most importantly our reactions when challenged. It is not easy, and it is not quick. But revering the life of ALL others and treating none as dispensable, is quite simply the only thing we have not tried. I don't see we have any other option than to be more loving. Nothing else has worked. We have never lived in times where more people are standing up for peace, more people are engaging with social issues and more people are raising their conscious concern for all, as opposed to just their own - take heart in this and use it to add fuel to your fire.
You have an essential role to play in world peace. The reality is, it cannot happen without you.