Spiritual preparations for stopping an arms fair

Sam Donaldson, a Quaker and seasoned anti-arms trade activist, calls on Quakers across Britain to 'let us see what love can do!' ahead of the DSEI arms fair.

quakers against the arms trade
Quakers at the DSEI arms fair demonstrations in 2015. Photo: Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk

On Tuesday 3 September, hundreds of Quakers will be gathering outside of the ExCel Centre in East London to say a communal 'no!' to the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair and the terrible evil that is the arms trade.

We will be sitting together in silent worship, waving our peace banners in the air, and singing songs of protest together, in the hope of driving a small spoke into this wheel of injustice.

Resistance and love

As the organisers, Roots of Resistance, prepare for this faith-led act of witness, we find ourselves taking a moment to stop and to remember why we are doing it. We do not just say 'no', acting out of our hatred of the global arms trade, our pain at the ways that it destroys countless precious lives and devastates lands across the globe, causing unimaginable suffering.

This nonviolent direct action is also grounded in our 'yes!'. Our 'yes!' to life in all its fullness, our 'yes!' to the preciousness of all living things, which ought to be cherished with tenderness and respect, our 'yes!' to a world without borders and armies, to a world of peace, equality, simplicity, integrity and sustainability.

Ultimately, our resistance is grounded in an even deeper 'yes!' – that eternal 'yes!' of boundless, unconditional love that beats at the heart of reality.

Our organising is therefore our testimony, our way of living out truths that we have come to discern – that the arms trade is evil, that it must be stopped, and that we must do our part to work for peace. And so we invite you to join with us in whatever ways you can over the next few weeks. Take a look at Roots of Resistance's upcoming dates.

Prayerful interventions

We recognise that not everyone can be with us in person. Your prayers and spiritual accompaniment are precious too. Inspired by the words of St Francis, Roots of Resistance have adapted the Peace Prayer for the 2019 arms fair demonstrations – perhaps you can share it with your meeting.

Make us an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let us bring your love.

Where there are bombs, tanks and planes being sold to tyrants, let us bring our banners, D-locks and lock-on tubes.

Where there are serious businesspeople dressed in suits, selling away their souls, let us bring our beauty, laughter, joy and love of life.

Where there is the silence of guilty consciences, acting in the shadows, let us bring the light of our truthful words, spoken, sung, and even shouted.

Where there is the noise of force and law, used to legitimise and protect terrible injustices, let us bring our courageous silence and stillness, in solidarity with all those who suffer and die.

And where there is darkness, grief and despair, let us bring your light, comfort and hope.

We have only a few weeks left now before the arms fair begins. So, to use the words of the early Quaker William Penn, 'Let us see what love can do!'

Register with Roots of Resistance for email updates