|Monday, 18 September 2000
Attached is my talk at the Festival of
in Ottawa, September 16, 2000, which very much reflects the
of the Doukhobor movement for a world without war. The event was
sponsored by the Coalition To Oppose the Arms Race.
Notes by Koozma J. Tarasoff for a talk at
THE FESTIVAL OF
Ottawa, Ontario September 16, 2000
In preparing for this gathering, I asked
why this talk, at this time, for this audience, and why me?
The National Capital Air Show or more properly the
War Show which we witness today sends the wrong message to us and our
Yes, technology is fascinating, but let us not forget what kind of
are displayed. The nonverbal messages of heavy bombers, fast
planes and guns are closely related to mass murder, wars, and
Are they not morally wrong?
We are living in the year 2000, a new
which the United Nations designated as the International Year of
and Peace. A few days ago, the biggest gathering of world leaders in
took place at the UN when more than 160 countries committed themselves
to the UN Charter which was formulated in 1945 "to get rid of the
As concerned citizens, we need to remind ourselves
and the wider public about the fundamentals of
A.J. Muste, the renowned American pacifist, once stated: "The way to
is peace." Gandhi earlier said: "If we are to have peace we must
begin with the children." Today, we need to question the role of the
the bomb, the war plane, the land mine, the use of children for war,
the idea of the National Missile Defense program.
I come from many generations of pacifists. Over
one hundred years ago, my grandparents along with 7500 Russian
called Spirit Wrestlers or Doukhobors came to North America and settled
in western Canada. Before they left, on Easter of 1895 in
(the area between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea), eleven Doukhobors
threw down their guns while training in a reserve battalion. They
that war and Christianity were incompatible. The result was they were
to disciplinary battalion and exile.
Then one of the most striking events in pacifist
history happened at the end of June 1895 when 7000 Doukhobors in three
settlements burnt their firearms in a mass demonstration against the
of militarism and war. They argued that because there is a spirit of
beauty, and God in every person, it is wrong to kill another
As the embers glowed and the people sang psalms of toil and peaceful
the Tsarist state and church reacted swiftly with severe beatings,
and exile. In fact, these dissidents -- my ancestors -- were doomed to
be stamped out if it wasn¹t for the power of the pen from Russian
writer and philosopher Lev N. Tolstoy, along with aid from Russian
and the Quakers.
That remarkable 1895 event continues to glow
in the hearts of many of my countrymen and women. Perhaps some people
may say that getting rid of guns is naive. Is it? Is it naive to
be highjacked by the glorification of wars in the history of our
that assumes that war is inevitable? Is it normal to allow the great
of human carnage and suffering -- the slaughter of 110 million killed
the last century? Is it not saner to divert our human and natural
to the important task of feeding, clothing, housing, healing, and
the citizens of our planet earth? Is it?
Perhaps this gathering is a wake-up call in the
new Millennium to consider a drastic change in our thinking towards
powerful concepts of co-operation, conciliation, love,
bridge-building, non-violence, and respect for the environment as well
as for the human spirit regardless of race, colour or creed. In brief,
is it not time for us to work towards what scientists call a paradigm
in thinking from war to a new vision of peace; from hate to love, from
destruction to building a saner society?
Yes, I believe in the human being. I believe in
the creativity of humans to achieve peace. As well I believe in
will of humans to take away the occasion for war. As concerned
here and across the country and the world, I believe we have the power
of our minds, our hearts, and our hands to create this very important
urgent transformation in our world community.
Note: In celebrating peace, life, creativity and the
The Festival of Peace was co-ordinated by Richard Sanders of the
to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT). This is the fourth year that the
has focussed a campaign on the so-called "National Capital Air Show".
"air show" used WAR planes as a source of entertrainment. Among the
were many of the world¹s fastest and most deadly fighter and
aircraft ever built (including nuclear weapons delivery systems).
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Koozma J. Tarasoff