Britain continues to export death and destruction to those who are only too ready to deal it out to their own populations, or each other. A disgrace.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/in-the-line-of-fire-a-date-with-despots-at-britains-arms-fair-2354314.html

Thankfully, not everyone is sitting idly by.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/12/london-arms-fair-protest

Many, many years ago, I was offered a job working for an arms manufacturer. They offered me what was, in those days, a king’s ransom. I was a young man, they made all sorts of soothing political and philosophical noises seeking to justify their activities, and then they dangled yet more money in front of me.

I thought about it, and turned them down flat. Then, and now, I could see no moral difference between selling the arms to someone else, and firing them myself, knowing full well what the purchasers intended to do with them. I was not prepared to make my living, no matter at what scale of of arm’s length, by killing people.

Sometimes, we only have our own consciences to guide us, and sometimes all we can do is make a decision about our own lives. I cannot help but feel that if more people simply refused to countenance many of the world’s evils in their personal lives, then they would start to dissipate in a broader sense. My views, essentially, are no different from those Donovan sang about in Universal Soldier, the man “who gives his body as a weapon of the war. And without him, all this killing can’t go on.”

I have always loved Buffy St Marie’s version too … the vibrato in her voice. And something about a woman’s passion for peace illuminates the song even more. That’s on YouTube too – well worth checking out for the difference, and also a recent recording of Domovan singing it in 2010, which is fascinating.

“He’s the universal soldier, and he really is to blame, his orders come from far away no more. They come from here and there, and you and me, and brother, can’t you see? This is not the way we put the end to war.”

It’s so sad, to me, that the simple arguments in this seminal song are as true nearly 50 years after the song was released as they were then.The look of rapt attention – and hope – on many of the young faces in the crowd in 1965 is heartbreaking.

Perhaps all we can do, ultimately, is change ourselves. Not allow our body to be a weapon of the war, and not allow other people’s bodies to be used in our place, in our name.

Be the change we want to see in the world, Gandhi said. Well, something like that, anyhow, would be a start.

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