This year our society has been studying how to read the Bible, and especially how important it is to read it in light of our loving, non-violent Jesus. It was only natural that we would focus our campaigning on teaching peace as well. Faith requires action as well as words.
So, we asked the University of Essex about how many of their careers events include stalls from companies which make weapons as their main product. Unfortunately, the response we received was what we expected: almost every single event they listed had a few companies that have some sort of involvement with warfare.
In the light of the previous success we had promoting tax justice on our campuses, we decided to launch a petition and, once again, tried to get as many chaplains and student societies to get involved and spread the word.
As it says in our online petition: “We strongly believe that our University, which prides itself for its international student population, has the moral duty to take a stance on the matter and should not encourage its students to choose a career in a sector that exists for the sole purpose of designing new and more effective way to take lives”, and this is even more important as we learn that British weapons are being used to commit crimes against humanity in Yemen.
It might be hard for us to build momentum now that exam sessions are approaching, but we hope to get as many students, alumni, and people from across the UK and abroad to help. This is not going to be easy, but it will be worth it if we can succeed. If not today, next academic year.
Peace is a key value in the Christian faith. Paul in Colossians 3;15 calls for Christians to let the peace of Christ control our hearts, and, as I’ve heard one pastor comment on this, we need peace to control our consciences, our communities, our commitments. It is not always simple, but today we all need to try and help raise awareness on this issue, and be heard by our University.
St. Francis’ simple prayer begins with the line “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace”. This is our concrete chance to act upon that wish and start making a change in our community.
Cate is a member of Essex Progressive Christians and involved with their campaigns. You can sign the society's new online petition here.