Peace Lotus Day 2023! ✊
Updated: Jun 14
On the 29th of April we gathered in the RYSE space to commemorate Peace Lotus Day. A day to reflect on the incredible internationalist anti-war resistance that supported the Vietnamese right to self-determination and triumphed in kicking the US out in 1975. We discussed Peace organising in Stroud now and in the past, shared together in a People's Assembly and announced our intention to 'Demilitarise Stroud for Planet Repairs!'
Running now for 4 years since it was launched by the XR Internationalist Solidarity Movement (XRISN) and XR Affinity Network for Asia (XRANA), it is a day to glocally ground in anti-war resistance and ask: 'how can we win the struggle for a Just Peace and end war in our lifetimes?' - and this year, through the PRALER Network, it had a record 7 events here across British Isles to echo those of our Global Family beyond. Including of course our own session, organised through SISTER (Stroud in Internationalist Solidarity, Together for Earth Repair), of which The RYSE is part, and which is our PRALER COLLSAG (Community Of Lifelong Learning Study Action Group).
These moments, of joining North to South and basing our conversations in the victories of Colonised Communities, are essential if we are to both learn the lessons, and hold the global perspective, necessary to truly organise for a decolonised Peace as named by Frantz Fanon:
"A decolonial and decolonizing sense of peace is found, not in conformity with and tolerance toward the neoliberal economy or toward the modern/colonial state, its neofascisms, conservatisms, and liberalisms, but in the love and rage of those who come together to make visible the war that has been perpetuated by profoundly misguided conceptions of law and order."
As such, in love and rage we started the day walking through Stroud Market blessing folks with a 'Happy Peace Lotus Day' and distributing both information and tissue paper Lotuses. Engaging folks in town showed that the 'call for Peace' is still a powerful one almost everyone agrees with - however, it also showed how shallow this statement is when only 1-in-20 folks will interrupt their shopping for even 1 minute to discuss the issue... a challenge we must embrace actively for as Caitlin Johnstone says:
“Everyone’s anti-war until the war propaganda starts. Nobody thinks of themselves as a warmonger, but then the spin machine gets going and before you know it they’re spouting the slogans they’ve been programmed to spout and waving the flags they’ve been programmed to wave and consenting to whatever the imperial war machine wants in that moment.”
Yet, with persistence our presence built throughout the morning and we distributed over 250 leaflets inviting folks to engage in the day. Back to The RYSE space for lunch, decoation and to paint a banner - inspired about our sibling COLLSAG down in Bristol's recent mural - theirs saying 'Demilitarise Bristol for Planet Repairs' - ours for Stroud:
Banner painted and drying, we welcomed the wider community in for our People's Assembly on Just Peace. Seated together, a group of 21 from ages 12 to 86, in a wide circle we welcomed a number of inputs - Robin from XRISN and SISTER framed the day and introduced the concept of Just Peace; our elder Dennis Gould talked about his personal involvement in the protests of 1968 and as editor of Peace News; Dave and Chris presented their Anti-War protests against the local Fairford airbase's role in the invasion of Iraq; Freya her plans to reignite local opposition to Fairford and Alfie on the current work of Palestine Action to Shut Down Elbit. These inputs were mixed with everyone's varied experiences when we split into breakout groups before coming back to share our ideas and potential pathways forward.
Some key areas of the discussion were:
That a 'Just Peace' asks us to not be complicit in a seeming 'Peace' that is in truth based on the repression of marginalised and colonised people here and the world over. To overstand that this 'Peace' the 'White Man/Elites' have mis-educated us to maintain has nothing to do with Justice. That it is 'Peace' for the few at the violent expense of the many and we must learn to disrupt it if we are to build a 'Just Peace' locally and globally.
That some of the elements of building a 'Just Peace' are:
Making Peace an active process, that it must be an everyday active part of our community life. That its propagation is part of our every interaction and we must be asking ourselves questions such as: how do we associate and communicate across difference? are we building spaces for all to have their voices heard? who in the community is protected by the White Man's Peace and who isn't? how are we prioritising those violently marginalised? how are we prioritising practical empathy? how are we organising for justice to break our complicity in the violence of the Police? how are we making peace and anti-war resistance a daily part of community conversation?
Basing our Peace work in the ancestral and on-going resistance to imperialism of colonised communities across the world. And in this, ask what role Stroud can play within the Global Family and begin to weave relationships of resistance and solidarity that very practically amplify their struggles and the massively powerful work for Peace that these communities are leading across the world. And in this process flip the script and very honestly see ourselves in the West not as 'bastions of Peace' but as ones of violence - and instead look to the world leading political processes such as the Just Peace being fought for by communities in Colombia to end decades of internal conflict and transform society.
Knowing that we will be labelled 'disturbers of the Peace' - the White Man/Elite's Peace - and refusing to be swayed from pushing onwards to our vision of 'Just Peace' all the same.
That clear local targets for organising must be to both reignite the challenge to the Fairford airbase and the militarisation of our youth - and that these can be combined in challenging the so-called 'family friendly' Air Tattoo in July and how it is advertised through our local Schools and Youth Groups. Plans are already moving to target this through Subvertising and as part of the School is a Crime Scene campaign.
There were of course more but hopefully these explain the heart of the discussions. After feeding them back to the wider group we took our banners to the bridge and made public our commitment as people of Stroud to work for a Just Peace.
There is much more that can be said but for now we will draw to a close here, that is practical work to do and we will let that speak for itself in time. For now we ask you all to check out the thoughts, feelings and work of our sibling groups who also contributed towards the day - namely @PRALER_News and the XR Being the Change Affinity Network.
And finish by stating clearly that we cannot defeat those who lust for War in any isolated struggle and so as we did this Peace Lotus Day we must ask: 'how can we play our part within the Global Family of Resistance?' and struggle everyday for a decolonised peace, for a true peace, for a community built and maintained peace - for a Just Peace!