Summer peace

WRITING ON THE WALL by Joseph Roberts

One thing I want is a world without nuclear weapons. So does Lucy Walker whose film Countdown to Zero opened in Toronto this month. Countdown to Zero is a major documentary film produced by Participant Media and Lawrence Bender, Academy Award-winning producers of An Inconvenient Truth. The Global Zero movement, launched in December 2008, now includes over 200 political, military, business, faith and civic leaders plus hundreds of thousands of citizens working towards the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide. Check it out at

Given that the USA possesses the majority of atomic bombs, America can lead the way by ridding the world of thousands of their own atomic bombs. My suggestion: start with the obsolete, rusting nukes and then get rid of the more precious modern ones. According to the World Court in The Hague, even the mere possession of atomic weapons is a crime against humanity. One reason is that nuclear weapons do not discriminate between civilians and military; we are all cremated equally.

Back in 1982, when I dreamed up Vancouver’s first Walk for Peace, we didn’t have computers (or even an event permit), but we managed to create Canada’s largest anti-nuke peace event with 35,000 people in attendance. That number grew to 100,000 by 1984. Back then, cameras used film so, unfortunately, there is little on the web to show that such a wonderful event ever happened. Let’s change that. If you have an inspiring photograph or a written piece, we invite you to share your favourite memories from those first three Walks for Peace. Send it to or mail it with a SASE to Common Ground, Lets Talk Peace, #204 – 4381 Fraser Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 4G4.

We need more of this kind of creativity because the human race wants to survive. Either you are with the human race or the arms race so choose very wisely. Get active now or radioactive later.

Brazil wins

A massive online campaign by the Avaaz community in Brazil has just won a stunning victory against corruption. The “clean record” law was a bold proposal that banned any politician, convicted of a crime of corruption or money laundering, from running for office. With nearly 25 percent of the Congress under investigation for corruption, most said it would never pass. But after Avaaz launched the largest online campaign in Brazilian history, helping to build a petition of over two million signatures, 500,000 online actions and tens of thousands of phone calls, the people won.

Avaaz members fought corrupt congressmen daily as they tried every trick in the book to kill, delay, amend and weaken the bill. Avaaz still won the day every time. The bill passed Congress and more than 330 candidates for office already face disqualification.

Silvia, one Brazilian member, wrote to us when the law was passed, saying, “I have never been as proud of the Brazilian people as I am today! Congratulations to all that have signed. Today, I feel like an actual citizen with political power.”

The Avaaz strategy in Brazil was simple: make a solution so popular and visible that it can’t be opposed and be so vigilant that we can’t be ignored. This victory shows what our community can do, at a national level, in developing nations, to combat the awful problem of corruption. Anywhere in the world, we can build legislative proposals to clean up corruption in government, back them up with massive citizen support and fight legislators who try to block them.

You can read more at The Economist: “Cleaning up. A Campaign Against Corruption,” The Rio Times: “Anti-Corruption Law in Effect This Year” and Le Monde: “Operation Clean Sheet in Brazil” (in French).

Lawrence Scanlan, author of A Year of Living Generously: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Philanthropy (published by Douglas & McIntyre), wrote about Ursula Franklin, the celebrated physicist, pacifist, author and Companion of the Order of Canada winner in the Ottawa Citizen on July 28, 2010. “Now 88, Franklin is ‘profoundly worried about the absence and erosion of democracy in Canada.’ When Franklin sees cabinet ministers holding press conferences to discuss legislation not yet debated in the House of Commons, she sees democracy deceived. And when she hears the prime minister saying he does not “trust” the Opposition, she sees contempt for democracy itself. ‘Who wants to live in a country,’ Franklin asked, ‘where those who don’t think like you are deemed untrustworthy?’”

How incredible it would be if, after almost 800 years since the Magna Carta(1215), real, honest democracy would break out in English speaking countries such as Britain, US and Canada. Imagine a “Magna Democracy” by 2015 where all people’s civil rights are protected, corrupt politicians are rehabbed and our governments work for the betterment of citizens rather than for global corporations.

It would be a much healthier situation all around.

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