Well, it's been nearly a week since we performed a symbolic exorcism at the DSEi arms fair in London, and finally, the 30,000 arms dealers and buyers have been sent scurrying away. The Exorcism seems to have helped in the early expulsion of a couple of companies who had been happily selling illegal weapons of torture (though that might have had more to do with Green MP Carolyn Lucas spotting the buggers during her quick inspection!)
Last Sunday was a triumph of protest. When I arrived, several military boats had been marooned whilst activists had blocked there entry to the Excel site. Later in the day, whilst several of those who had chained themselves together were being carted away, we decided to make our move.
I had already been warned that if I stepped into the road again I would be arrested, but now I was in full clerical gear, and I was sure that if enough people joined in, we would be free from too much police hassle. I marched through the police line singing 'Peace is flowing like a river' I knew that the other clergy, Keith and Helen were right beside me, but it was only when I turned that I realised that perhaps 100 folk had followed us into the road at the entrance to Excel. The police were pushing back, so I encouraged the people at the front to sit down, and finally we had the space to conduct the service. I found it deeply moving. What had begun as a mostly symbolic act, suddenly took on a spiritual life of it own. Normally when leading events like this, it is hard to feel moved, as you are too focused on simply getting it done. This time was different, as I shouted a 'casting out' of militarism and violence, I felt the presence of God right in the heart of what we were doing.
Later in the week I witnessed even more wondrous sites, including seeing seven Christian friends blocked the entrance to the site (I played the decoy, as the police were so obsessed with trying to stop me praying for peace in public, they let the well dressed protesters sneak by them!)
Watching activists at work is a beautiful thing, and to see people of faith join in gives me great hope. However, much more needs to be done. I counted 6 priests and ministers in action throughout the week, Anglican, Methodist and Catholic. Why not 100? There were on total 4-500 protesters over the few days we were there. If 5,000 had turned up - we could have closed the whole thing down.
The adverts were out for the next arms fair in 2 years time. Let's be blunt, these fair fuel the wars of tomorrow, there is no such thing as an 'ethical arms fair' - people are here to make as much money as possible, regardless of the suffering that comes from the sale of such items.
Let us commit ourselves now to be there again, and to prepare ourselves by learning the techniques of creative and non-violent direct action - blockades, costumes, humour, prayer - and even the odd exorcism.
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