It’s not an easy time of year is it? Dull grey skies and cold weather increasingly in the forecast and then the seemingly impossible conundrum that is Brexit. Whether we will be any closer to a settlement when this article is published I somehow doubt with all sorts of opinions and opinion-makers pitching their stalls in the press and Parliament.
Every year I try to get to the CND London conference which takes place in early January; I have been a member for many years but have to say I have not been very active in my support. Yet listening to this year’s excellent speakers addressing the issues under the title “Trump’s finger on the Nuclear Button” it was hard not to think we are getting so caught up in our Brexit concerns that we are at risk of ignoring the wider picture - not that the two are not connected.
We had a very comprehensive talk from Ambassador Husam Zomlot, Head of Palestinian Mission UK who described how the Palestinian Mission in Washington was closed by President Trump in August 2018 and he and his family now live in West London following death threats in the USA.
As we at St James’ URC contribute to supporting Commitment for Life in the Occupied Territories, I was especially interested to hear his perspective on the West and its approaches and contributions to the seemingly endless conflicts in Israel.
But I suppose what stays with me is the economics of our own situation and our part in the nuclear arms industry. I know it is highly controversial and others may disagree with me, but how can we justify the government’s plans to spend at least £205 billion on a new nuclear weapons system to replace Trident, which already costs us £6.6 million a day? We never saw those figures on the side of any bus did we?
So, what can we mere mortals do?
I have resolved to get in touch with my local CND branch (020 7700 2393 or email@example.com) to offer help. One thing in particular they are asking for is people to help by going into schools (primary and secondary) with resources developed by CND to explain, in short sessions, why nuclear arms are irrelevant, costly and very dangerous to our world.
At the conference we were told that BAE systems, the company that is mainly responsible for the development of Trident and its replacement is already heavily sponsoring teaching materials that go into academy schools around their main site in Barrow in Furness, encouraging children to think very positively about the design of nuclear submarines.
If you look at websites for educational opportunities in the Barrow in Furness area, you can see how woven into the local economy the nuclear industry is.
We can turn a blind eye - after all Barrow is almost 300 miles away from the Forest Group and nothing has apparently happened yet.
However if we do nothing, we are condoning this vast expenditure on such dangerous and wasteful technology rather than using that money for healthcare, education, housing or greener energy.
If we at St. James’ URC call ourselves an eco-congregation, we need to think very hard about this and raise awareness before the bus goes without us.