WINNING SUPPORT FOR THE COVENANT
The first gathering to sign the Covenant for Peace, our declaration that “We desire that Scotland should be known for its international contribution to peace and justice rather than for waging war.” took place in August, at Wiston Lodge, in its beautiful rural setting. Donald Smith, the writer on Scottish culture and history who directs the Scottish Storytelling Centre, along with Alan McKinnon and Isobel Lindsay, convenors of SCND and Scotland’s for Peace respectively, set the tone for a celebratory evening ceilidh at the end of a day of lively discussion, interaction and visioning.
We now have 40 copies of the beautiful bound book, containing Alastair Grey’s illustration as the frontispiece and with the illustrated declaration facing each page laid out for signatures. The books can be obtained through the Peace and Justice Centre by those wishing to host a gathering, or look after a copy for a while at an appropriate site. Leaflets to be used at signings will be also be available from there.
The Scotland’s for Peace flag with its dove and thistle had pride of place for the month of August – Edinburgh’s Festival period - fluttering above St John’s church at the West End for the duration of the Festival of Peace and Spirituality, and at the closing concert with the Protest in Harmony choir and harpist Phamie Gow, a packed church applauded the declaration before the book was signed by all present.
Those present at the Wiston event listed organisations and groups that they are part of and could reach out to, including: workplace, library, club, family, trades union, church etc. and any voluntary groups, and then thought about practical ways of informing these organisations about the Covenant for Peace and getting them to support it.
In addition to formally approaching the Nuclear Free Local authorities and using its influence with the MSPs who voted against Trident, SCND can work through its existing contacts, for instance Local Authority libraries which have up to now taken SCND leaflets will be approached to take material relating to the Peace Covenant, and asked what support they would need to put on something like a Peace day/exhibition at which people could sign the covenant, as well as the local CND groups. The schools which have taken SCND material for the classroom will also be approached to invite representatives from the Peace Covenant into the school (or college or university) to show students and teachers the books and encourage them to hold gatherings and raise some of the costs (each book should generate at least £40 in donations).
One primary teacher will work on a citizenship event with the kids at her school on peace and invite their parents to see what the kids have done - and sign the covenant! She has also offered to write up what she does, so that her work could then be used as a model for other teachers.
Thanks to Donald Smith, there will be a book at the Storytelling Centre and we will have a signing event there. We are working on creating an event at Greyfriars Kirk, and another with Theatre Alba at Duddingston Kirk.
We hope that everyone supporting the Covenant who belongs to a trade union will see their representative and try to get a motion of support for the Peace Covenant passed for presentation at the next Annual Conference of their union until every union becomes aware of the Covenant.
In addition to the endorsement of leaders of the churches who are constituents of Scotland’s for Peace in public, we hope that people can get their individual place of worship to encourage members to support the covenant and even get the priest/minister to preach on it.
With poets who were at Wiston (Jim Atken, Ghazzi Hussein and Tessa Ransford) we plan to organise a reading of peace poems at one or more of the independent bookshops, with opportunity to sign Peace Covenant, and to use the Covenant as a theme for such an event. The same idea could be used for artists' groups and paintings.
The Iona Community will have a book at an upcoming gathering, as will Scottish Quakers, and the Edinburgh Interfaith Association is holding a book to ensure that our spiritual diversity is recorded as well as Christian and Muslim support for the Covenant within Scotland’s for Peace.
Winning support for the Covenant requires us to take every opportunity to use our networks, and events and opportunities we are involved in, to gather signatures.
Please contact Scotland’s for Peace at the Glasgow SCND office, or through the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre if you would like to know more about this work, or for information about the support available if you have an idea or a plan.
During the Bin The Bomb Campaign, all sorts of groups and individuals organised events and activities throughout Scotland. Some were part of the Roadshow in February, and others were autonomously organised, as part of the wider Scotland’s for Peace network. One expression of our shared perspective was the number of individuals at these gatherings who signed the declaration. The Covenant gives us the opportunity to formally build that shared perspective, and provide evidence of it. Our elected representatives, religious and state leaders can state their hopes for Scotland along with those of us who put, and keep them, in power. By Janet Fenton