discussion

A sense of deja vu!

September 26, 2014 | Nick Taylor

Robert Byrd is a Democrat from West Virginia. He is an eloquent speaker and his words really resonate with me: “What is happening in this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and berates our friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international order by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might? How can we abandon diplomacy when the turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy?

Today (Friday 26 September 2014), the British Parliament is recalled and yet again our country and military are entering a high-altitude conflict (because that is what modern warfare often begins with – drones and flying technology) dropping explosives to thwart ‘terrorists’ on the ground.

Virtually every modern Parliamentary sitting has to face such a recall within its term of office but the consequences of their decisions will be felt for years and decades beyond their political decision making. In that small chamber in Whitehall the debate and subsequent votes determine the lives or deaths of people. It determines the post trauma and stress that will be experienced by people and it will set in place the behaviours and attitudes of future generations and actions that may follow amongst our population and in our communities.

The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace was set up by the parents of a child who died as a result of others making decisions and the consequences that followed. The Founders of the charity I work for stood up for peace by saying clearly that they didn’t want what they have experienced and still experience ever day to happen to anyone else. Every day our Foundation works FOR PEACE – simply defined that we accept that conflict exists and is a reality in our personal lives, in our homes, in our communities, in the workplace, in every ‘walk of life’ including across races, religions and nations. BUT, we believe, you don’t need to resort to violence to resolve conflict. You do it through dialogue, mediation, negotiation, sharing experiences and understanding and yes, as Robert Byrd says – diplomacy. Violence results in violence – there is no other conclusion.

In recent weeks I have called on the Government to look closely at the long-term investment and actions that need to be taken(1). There has been a resounding silence. When Robert Byrd spoke his words there was also a resounding silence. We need to have this debate and we need it now. Politicians have to look beyond their short-term lifespan of five years. We need Government for the decades and centuries. Our history shows us the decisions of previous Parliamentary recalls and the actions taken. Our present shows us the consequences of those decisions and today one can’t help feeling a sense of deja vu! The words I quote from Robert Byrd are powerful and similar may be spoken by another politician today. In fact, Robert spoke those words on 19 March 2003 over a decade ago. How far have we come, have we learnt anything, and perhaps it is time his words were listened to and heard.

(1) Read our call upon the Government here