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Fellowship of Reconciliation

FoR

A Service for All

Affirming Peacemaking
100 Years without violence

With The Bishop of Manchester, Rt Rev David Walker

Saturday 17th January 2015 at 2pm

St Mary the Virgin, University Church, High Street, Oxford OX1 4AH

RSVP to: Rev’d Donald Reece at donald@elmershouse.co.uk

The London Pacifism and Nonviolence Discussion Group

 

london pacifismThe London Pacifism and Nonviolence Discussion Group are meeting soon to discuss:

Tuesday 13 January 2015, Nonviolence and Eating Habits

Your thoughts on these topics are welcome, in advance and (especially) on the day.

The group meets on the second Tuesday each month, at 7pm (until around 9pm)
at Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London N1.
Nearest tube: Kings Cross

Please try to arrive promptly by 7pm.

Everyone with an interest in pacifism and nonviolence is welcome.

The February meeting will be: Tuesday 10th February on Pacifism and Pleasure

For more information about the meetings: http://londonpacifismnonviolence.wordpress.com

Join Conscience in Parliament

John McDonnell MP will be hosting a Conscience event in Parliament
as part of his ‘People’s Parliament’ series

peoples parliament
Wednesday 11th February 2015 at 18:30–21:30
House of Commons
London, United Kingdom

Tickets Available:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/peoples-parliament-with-john-mcdonnell-mp-tickets-14576505721

Working with John McDonnell MP Conscience will be launching the consultation of a Peace Tax Bill. This would enable Conscientious Objectors to Military Taxation to have their taxes redirected away from military spending towards conflict prevention projects as a more ethical and sustainable alternative to military intervention.

Conscience would like to invite you to an evening in Parliament where politicians and peace building experts will discuss alternatives to military security and how mediation and demilitarisation programmes are being used to avert conflict.

Please allow 20 minutes to clear security before your arrival. The committee room is TBC – details coming soon.

View from the Gandhi Foundation Summer Gathering 2014

Room with a view…on the Gandhi Foundation Summer Gathering 2014
by Linnet Drury, 11 years old.

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The Gandhi Foundation Summer Gathering (GFSG) is a great way to combine sharing, peaceful thinking, practicality and ideas on fitting Gandhi’s practices into the modern world. This year we all had great fun exploring the Summer Gathering’s topic “Gandhi and Education” and it was hosted at the beautiful Abbey and its grounds in Sutton Courtney, Oxfordshire.

The GFSG this year had people of all ages (8 months to 80 years!) and people from many nationalities, even from India! We had great fun sharing games and delicious food from around the world. It was also excellent for our discussions as we had contributions from such varied backgrounds, as well as ideas and points of view about education from many different sources. In our discussions we shared our personal experience with education, and it was interesting that those who had experienced the Comprehensive system seemed to have enjoyed it more and met a broader range of people. We looked at how schools have improved, how they can still improve and about how we can include Gandhi’s practices in education even more. We picked up on different styles of education, ups and downs, about home education and learning throughout life.

But the morning discussions weren’t the only way of learning at the Summer Gathering. Through living in a community we find that we learn loads from sharing and having fun. Also individual ideas and thoughts can combine to create a harmonious teamwork that showed through in everything we did at the Abbey. In discussions, we combined ideas to think up answers to questions; in shramadana we worked together to do the jobs for the community; in free time we could have fun together; and in the creative activities sessions we combined our skills to fulfil Gandhi’s ideas on practical work.

GF SG 2014 group shot

We had a lot of fun at the GFSG. The beautiful Abbey (some parts dating back to the Norman period) set in between lawns, woods, orchards and a walled garden, was great for its peaceful and meditative aura and practical facilities. People could camp in the orchard, stay in the modern guest house or in the Abbey building itself. In our free time we set out badminton on the lawn, went on river walks, went swimming in the lido in the nearby town, read in the Abbey library, played games, and just talked on the grass. In our creative activities we did painting, weaving, calligraphy, bracelet making, photography and yoga. We had beautiful weather all week so we could do most activities outside. All the food was vegetarian, and delicious, ranging from salads, pasta and homemade bread to genuine Indian curries. The kitchen always had a great aroma.

We all enjoyed ourselves and with next year’s exciting topic “Gandhi in the Digital Age”, I can’t wait until next summer.

The Gandhi Foundation Multifaith Celebration 2015

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The Gandhi Foundation Multifaith Celebration will be on
Saturday 31st January 2015 at 2.30pm
at
the London Interfaith Centre
125 Salusbury Road, West Kilburn, London NW6 6RG

‘Caring for the Future of People and Planet’
Different Faiths, Ecology and Spirituality

Speaker: Dr Ursula King

Followed by a discussion with representatives of various faith traditions. Refreshments afterwards.

Ursula KIng

Ursula KIng

Ursula King is Professor Emerita of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol. She has lectured in many countries and has published on such subjects as religion & gender, interfaith dialogue, modern Hinduism, Christian mystics, and the French scientist and theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

Nearest stations are Queens Park (Bakerloo Line) and Brondesbury Park (London Overground) and the 206 bus from Wembley Park to Kilburn Park runs right past the venue. Please register with william@gandhifoundation.org to aid refreshment planning.

Gandhi: An Inspiration for All

Gandhi: An Inspiration for All
by Krystalia Keramida

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It is undeniable that Gandhi is one of the world’s greatest political and spiritual leaders. In India he is honoured as the father of the nation. He inspired his compatriots to fight for peace, freedom and democracy. He upheld the importance of human rights and non-discrimination. This is why he was named ‘Mahatma’, which means great soul.

Gandhi promoted Human Rights, which are part of every human being, independent of origin, religion, age, gender or social status. They are not just a history lesson or words without meaning, but include the essence of every single person all over the world. They allow us to live with safety, dignity, unity, love and of course peace. This latter is another word with deep meaning, because peace is not just a situation, it is the only way to joy, respect for diversity, and democracy.

But his influence has not ended. Gandhi was the light-guide for thousands of people, in order to fight against war, especially using his method of protest – ‘satyagraha’. Acceptance of suffering for the sake of truth and resistance to violence with nonviolence became a powerful movement all over the world and also a way of life. The first condition of nonviolence is justice all round, in every department of life. Justice, respect for diversity, unity and solidarity, love of nature, are the keys for a better world, according to Gandhi.

The question is how someone can achieve the complete development of body, soul and mind. Gandhi answered that it was through education. Only the right and congruous combination of these three elements could lead to an integrated person. The key is the growth of the five senses. Through the conscious exercise of the senses of touch, hearing, vision, smell and taste, a person acquires better contact with others, observes, meditates and feels, looks and discovers the essence of things. Education is important for everyone, regardless of age or lifestyle.

His theory of complete development of body, soul and mind was inspired by Plato, Aristotle and Socrates, three of the most significant Greek philosophers, who changed the history of the world and became founding figures in Western philosophy. Gandhi was always looking for historical figures who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of truth, so these Greek philosophers were a natural choice for him. Gandhi translated Plato’s Apology into Gujarati and titled the story of Socrates as The Story of a Soldier of Truth. In his translation summary, he described Socrates as a “heroic, extraordinary person with a fine moral character.” “We must learn to live and die like Socrates”, these were Gandhi’s words.

Socrates lived in Athens in the fourth century BCE. He altered Western thought, because he devoted his life to the search for Truth, existing in everyone’s soul. This Truth could become the ultimate knowledge and change the way we live. Gandhi called him a great Satyagrahi and emphasized, like Socrates, that we should not spend our time in finding faults with others, because only a pure person can fight evil with courage.

Plato, the student of Socrates and founder of the Academy in Athens, often characterized as the first university in Europe, developed a theory of knowledge that goes deep into the nature of knowledge itself. This is the true knowledge and it is permanent, unlike the knowledge based on appearance which is the untruth. This theory was adopted by Gandhi.

Last but not least, Aristotle, born in Macedonia and a member of Plato’s Academy, considered psychology to be the study of the soul and claimed that everything has a multitude of causes. These thoughts were the basis for Gandhi to say that hard work is necessary to succeed at anything in life and to be a socially active citizen, because nothing could be achieved on one’s own.

These were the inspiring reasons for UNESCO in Serres, a city in the north of Greece, which is a Club of people of different ages but with the same goal to promote culture, education, human rights, environment and innovation, to organize an educational program about Gandhi’s legacy. We want to help students of primary and elementary schools come close to Gandhi’s philosophy and understand the importance and the values of him, especially nowadays in a society that suffers from the economic, political and also moral crisis. As a team, we cooperate with Greek universities and significant institutions about Gandhi worldwide, because we believe that no one could achieve everything alone, but together we can move forward. Besides, as Gandhi claimed “the whole world is like the human body with its various members. Pain in one member is always felt in the whole body.”

Moreover, we think that in the century of knowledge, being racist only proves how low in society you really are. This is why Gandhi and his words inspire us to help children, who are the basis of every society, understand that humane education is the only way to overcome racism, discrimination, war and to broaden your horizons.

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In order to achieve these goals and also make it fun for the students, we prepare different actions, such as music, theatre, painting, and writing. Every time, based on each one of the ten most important moral values of Gandhi, we plan one action. For example, according to the value “Learn to forgive”, we ask the students to play a role game. If someone hurts you, could you forgive him ? If not, why ? And if you hurt him, would you ask him to forgive you then ? Why ? Moreover, these actions aim to connect Gandhi’s values to the moral intelligence of the children. Creativity, self-control, respect, consciousness, justice are the parts of moral intelligence which helps children understand and express their feelings and have self-esteem.

Finally, this educational program is the tool to make clear that philosophy is one, commonly shared value that could change the way you think and live every day. So, despite the current difficult situation in Greece, we must look forward, try to be reborn from the ashes and get inspired by Gandhi and our ancestors in order to build the foundations of a world where peace, democracy and human rights will be the reality for all and not just a dream for a few.

Krystalia Keramida is a lawyer, a member of UNESCO in Serres, Greece, specializing in the field of Human Rights and project manager of the educational program for Gandhi.

Baron Attenborough of Richmond-upon-Thames CBE 29 August 1923 – 24 August 2014

Richard Attenborough Surur Hoda at Kingsley Hall in 1996

Richard Attenborough and Surur Hoda at Kingsley Hall in 1996

Our Founder President Baron Richard Attenborough was an exceptional man and did so much to help illuminate the peaceful, tolerant and non-violent views of Gandhi throughout the world. John Rowley, who is a Trustee of the Gandhi Foundation and who knew Richard, has written an illuminating and interesting article looking back on his life and especially his involvement with the Gandhi Foundation. You can view the full article which includes little-seen photographs by clicking this link:

Baron Attenborough of Richmond-Upon-Thames CBE 29 August 1923 – 24 August 2014 by John Rowley, Trustee, The Gandhi Foundation

 

I was privileged to have worked with Richard early in 1985 as the lawyer helping to create the Gandhi Trust, now the Gandhi Foundation. Together with Diana Schumacher, Lord David Ennals, Surur Hoda, Cecil Evans and Rex Ambler, we comprised the first trustees under the leadership of Richard himself.

Much has been very warmly written and spoken of his remarkable professional, artistic and steadfast nature and approach to his work, all very true and, if anything, understated in the endeavour to do justice to his vast, diverse and all-important talents.

What I think we were fortunate to have shared back in the aftermath of his epic film “Gandhi” , was in witnessing his innate sense of what is right and what is wrong, what needs to be supported and what opposed. The experience of his parents welcoming into their home two young Jewish girls, Helga and Irene, refugees from Nazi persecution whom he came to regard very much as his sisters, was frequently mentioned as defining the values of his upbringing. He had an ability to understand and, as it were, get under the skin of others, and a genuine uncomplicated belief that good can prevail – rare qualities and gifts in much limited supply.

This ethos was well to the fore in the discussions and thinking that went into the establishment of the charity, its objects and the practical implications of its workings as well as the visionary concept of the exercise. Richard embraced the teachings, commitment and authority of the Mahatma not simply as a worthy subject for a film – a movie, in his words – but as important for everyone to learn, absorb and run their lives for the betterment of all. True and needed for the 1980s, even more true today.

His most fitting memorial is for those now in charge of the charity to press forward with its human and humane standards and activities, bridge-building across differences real and perceived, all in keeping with the warmth, charm and humour that was ever dear Richard.

Martin Polden OBE
Co-Founder of the Environmental Law Foundation and a Patron of the Gandhi Foundation

Sadly, I never had the honour of meeting Richard, so I cannot add any personal reminiscences.
But I was hugely impressed by Gandhi, the film, and also by Oh What a Lovely War. A beautiful spirit has certainly been switched off in one way, yet its influence remains fresh for generations to come. I hope the Gandhi Foundation may play a leading role in spreading his light across the world.

Eirwen Harbottle
Peace Child International and a Patron of the Gandhi Foundation

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