Thursday, 10 February 2011

A question of conscience

There were a number of supportive letters in yesterday's Birmingham Mail. This one, from Ray Gaston, sensitively captures the issues of conscience that peace activists face in these circumstances:

Well done Cllrs Yaqoob and Ishtiaq for remaining true to your principles despite enormous pressure to do otherwise.

The increasing weight upon us all to conform to supporting the government's invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq by exerting emotional pressure through the parading of 'national' heroes in the public space ( council meetings, football matches) is to be resisted; not out of a disrespect to an individual act of human courage like that of Matt Croucher, but out of a deep conviction that we should resist attempts to use Matt's example of human selflessness to legitimate a war that is so widely questioned both here and internationally.

While Matt's action in falling upon a grenade to save his friends demonstrates the best of our humanity, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan remain examples of the worst of human endeavours.

Salma Yaqoob's and Mohammed Ishtiaq's refusal to rise is directed against the latter and is commendable as an act of moral courage based upon conscience and principle and I for one respect and applaud them for remaining in their seats.

Rev Ray Gaston, Interfaith Enabler,
Birmingham District of the Methodist Church