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Comments on peace, made to 42nd annual Kamloops Walk for Peace

I’m wearing my traditional ceremonial ribbon shirt in honour of this occasion.

Kamloops Walk for Peace

by John McNamer, guest speaker

I begin by acknowledging we are on unceded traditional Secwepemc territory and also acknowledging the fine work of the SSN Joint Council with their extensive analysis leading to a formal rejection of the proposed Ajax mine in the Sacred Pipsell area.  I’m wearing my traditional ceremonial ribbon shirt in honour of this occasion.

I’m happy to be here to speak about peace, and because my time to speak is brief, I am going to skip right past the politics and share with you some good things I have gleaned from my experience as a peace activist.  Interestingly, I got started about the same time as this annual peace walk did, an amazing 42 years ago, so I guess we are somehow meant to be intertwined, even though I was living in the States at the time.

I was greatly traumatized as a young man, a U.S. citizen, by allowing myself to be drafted and sent to Vietnam with the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division – even though I knew this military invasion was wrong and probably illegal.  I allowed my body, mind and spirit to be misused by abusers.

Looking back, I can see that I have spent much energy in the last four decades working hard to make amends for that mistake on my part through engaged activism as an advocate for peace, but the really great thing about that is that it has turned into a wonderful gift for me!

For one thing, I now know in my heart that peace is not an impossible dream, that peace can be found through respect for the rule of just laws (with an emphasis on “just”); through respect for the rule of international law rather than the rule of bomb and torture; through respect for human rights and social justice, and through respect for the environment, the mother to us all.

There have been many campaigns for me, too numerous to mention, but I will just share with you that along the way I discovered an energy path that allowed me to become stable and comfortable, avoid burnout and continue to open and grow while abiding in this kind of high-intensity work.  It has no name, but I see it as a spiritual path of “healthy, committed, functional, loving relationships.”

A daily yogic meditation practice for many years has been instrumental in helping me understand and negotiate this path of loving relationship – which is not only about close personal relationships, but about all relationships, including relationship with Higher Power.

Happily, this allowed me to move from a place of not being at peace with the world or with myself, to a place of peace, joy and gratitude.

I have learned through this work that one must always be true to oneself.  To always let your conscience be your guide and therefore to act from a place of personal integrity rather than from conformity to political correctness.  And to start paying attention when they say something must be done in the name of national interest, national security or patriotism.

I am honoured to be here with you today, for you are my kind of people.  We are here to get out of our heads and get onto the street to take a positive nonviolent action in the name of peace, social justice and the environment.

I celebrate this day and each and every one of you!! When we walk together we are so much stronger, and we need to be strong to resist the huge misguided pressures that are coming at us today to bomb and torture our way to peace.

Violence is not the way to peace; because what goes round comes round…peace is the way to peace.  We are moving toward that realization with our steps here today.  Walk on my friends!

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