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Dear friends, our readers all over the world,

As friends of the Quakers, issuers of the Newsletter Ecumenici (Ecumenical Newsletter), which has been issued in Italy for more than 11 years, we wish to inform you of a seriously alarming course of action taken by the Town Council of Pisa (Italy). The council – for two years – has been taking school-children on tours to the local Airborne Troops barracks.

The educational purpose of the idea of taking children to military facilities is absolutely wrong.

To let inexperienced human beings be influenced by the deceptive allurements of a uniform, to let them be brought into contact with the aimless exhibition of the power of weapons, means to be responsible for the unhealthy up-bringing of the new generation, ignoring the fact that the only possible defense against modern weapons is the nonviolent response.

Therefore we ask you to write to local councillor Maria Luisa Chiofalo m.chiofalo@comune.pisa.it , begging her to cease to be guilty before the world of such a deed.

All over the world Pisa is a town beloved for art, culture and Peace. It must remain so, also for the children.

We beg you to send also a copy of the letter to councillor Chiofalo  also to maurizio_benazzi@libero.it.
Newsletter Ecumenici

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THE 17th FEBRURY

 

THE FIRE OF FREEDOM

by Giuseppe Platone

 

Following a tradition which goes back to the year 1848, on the evening of the 16th February, merry bonfires are lit all over the Waldensian Valleys – though not only in the Valleys! Years ago, I remember being present at a Waldensian bonfire celebration in Sicily, and I remember another on a beach in Liguria. There is a historical background,then, behind these fires of freedom which may sometimes deteriorate into a mere folkloristic occasion, but at the heart of which is expressed the essence of Christian freedom. A freedom which has been hard-won but, at the same time, received as a gift. Next to life itself, this freedom is among the most precious blessings we have on this earth, together with freedom of conscience, freedom to choose…..to be free we are ready to stake all we have.

As citizens of this State and as Protestant believers, we too seek after freedom. The 17th February celebrations, which we call “the feast of freedom”, has a civil and political importance for us; it concerns the historical emancipation of a religious minority. It concerns a civil conquest which will only be fully consolidated on the day that all minorities and faiths are considered to be equal by their state authorities. Many times we have discussed the fact that a law which regulates the question of religious freedom in a fair and impartial way, is lacking in Italy. (our country?) We still live in an inequitable atmosphere even though some kind of result was achieved with the signing of the official agreement (Intesa) between the State and the Italian Methodist and Waldensian churches. There are still many other subjects, however, waiting to see a similar agreement endorsed. In other words, if we speak about freedom, we must specify the freedom to which we refer, because the word is too often hackneyed and bent to achieve different ends. It is like “plasticine”, adaptable to any situation. Let’s take as an example the freedom of information, we can run the risk(or we are already running the risk), of reducing this to a parody of pluralism. The real voices of contradictory information, the modest headlines, the courageous experiences which have poor financial means, are in fact suffocated by the clamour of the giant media and scandal sheets. The risk of an apparant freedom, dictated only by market values which standardize conduct, is real. We look towards that freedom which is bound to the Gospel “truth which will make you free”, to a discipleship which follows Christ (not which goes before him or takes his place) . In this time of anxiety in our churches, let us not forget that freedom is like a fire. It gives light, it warms, but it can also destroy. The seeking after freedom can be used as a weapon which forces everyone into the same pattern. If freedom is not transformed into commitment for others’ freedom (and therefore towards ourselves), even in the church we risk to “bite and devour one another”(Galations 5.16) in an endless game of slaughter. Let us allow the gift of freedom we have received to flower in its various shades and so give colour to our life.

I answer to me this question: can militarism in general support a story of democracy in a Country? At the moment the leader in Cairo is a a chief of the Intelligence Army…

M.B.

Reflections on the current situation in Egypt

February 11, 2011
by Allyn and Holly Dhynes, West Hills Friends

A teeming Cairo with all its traffic, commotion, and dusty air has long been considered a place of refuge for my wife and I during our work in the Middle East. But for the majority of its residents its harsh, degrading, and deprived conditions have taken its toll.

The unanticipated massive protest against the government in Egypt was fundamentally caused by economics—the mounting poverty and growing desperation of the masses. This disillusionment is a common thread throughout the Middle East as autocratic regimes have produced little in the way of democratic reform or improved economic realities. There has simply been no voice and no venue for change…until now.

This historic moment—and it is certainly momentous—is as significant as our own American struggle for independence, or the fight to end slavery or the civil rights movement. It’s a defining moment for the Middle East that is currently plagued by oppression and suppression. Decidedly, the people of Egypt have courageously shown us that we too can have a voice to say “enough.”

It is easy for the world to have apprehension about this new and rather delicate reality in Egypt. But, as Quakers, I wonder if we can take a position of confidence and faith. Do we not trust that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty from fear and oppression? William Penn, like these protesters, was courageously persistent in order to achieve his vision of liberty for all. Sadly, it’s a path not well trod and needs a great deal of light. Let us hold these people in the Light:

•Those who are crying out for change—and those who condemn and batter them.
•The poorest of the poor in Egypt who endure such degradation as living in garbage dumps.
•The rest of the Middle East where similar discontent is present.
•All who are disillusioned and see no hope—may their Light be kindled.
•Those who suppress others for fear of what they will lose.
•The leaders of nations—for wisdom and humility.
Every day in Tahrir Square is a new day of possibilities. May the resilient optimism of freedom win out!

Woodbrooke* is often likened to an oasis, and over the first few months of me being here it has certainly felt like that to me. Because when I think of an oasis, the image that it conjures up is of a lively busy place, with people finding refreshment both in a physical sense and socially as well. It’s a place where people can share stories of their journey and exchange news of friends and family. I hope that in whatever capacity you visit Woodbrooke whether it be to attend a course, conference or stay for B&B, you’ll find Woodbrooke a place of nourishment, renewal and revitalization.

Sandra Berry, Director.

http://www.woodbrooke.org.uk/

*Woodbrooke is Europe’s only Quaker Study Centre. It is based in the former family home of the local chocolate maker, George Cadbury, himself a Quaker, and has, since 1903, provided education for those of any faith or none from around the world. Education has always been based around exploring Quakerism and the themes of interest to Quakers, such as Peace and Reconciliation, Quaker History and Spiritual Journeys.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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