No to NATO

NATO Protest Sunday, July 9, 2023

Dear friends and fellow peacemakers, 

My name is Greg Gillis and I am with Pax Christi, part of the Catholic Peace Movement. Jesus said, “Blessed are the Peacemakers” not the warmongers. We need to begin, first and foremost, right here in Canada as Pax Christi stands against all systems of violence and militarism and insists that the Gospel imperative on nonviolence leads to the dismantling of these systems.

In Canada our membership in NATO bears much responsibility for provoking this current war with Russia through its expansion into Eastern Europe. This continued through the 1990s with Canada’s support as NATO proceeded to add 14 new countries that were formerly members of the Warsaw Pact. Russia has rightly complained that this has been a direct threat to its own legitimate security concerns. These concerns have fallen on deaf ears among Western leaders.

We live in a time when we are all brainwashed by the culture of violence almost from the moment we are born. Our media, our sports, our entertainment and above all our political leadership promote a myth of redemptive violence. That in weapons, war, wealth, and unlimited power lie our security. We all know this is a lie. Every war is based on lies. Words like freedom, democracy, and the righteousness of our cause are thrown out to justify the killing and mass murder of our fellow human beings. The victims of these wars are the young, the poor, the working classes who are sent out to fight them, women, children, and the elderly who will be killed, maimed, or left homeless refugees. The military industrial complex considers these collateral damage a euphemism for the unintended deaths of non-combatants.

The 20th century was the bloodiest century in human history, two world wars each leaving in their wake millions of dead and maimed and a legacy of fear, hate and violence of which NATO remains a sad relic. The two world wars each planted the seeds of its successor including the Cold War which followed from 1945-1990. In one week of August 1945 two atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and today we now all live under this same threat with our own cities targeted and those of our so-called enemies. One has to ask where are the genuine leaders who can do the hard and tireless work to chart the path of peace through good faith, mutual respect, proper diplomacy and negotiations based upon honesty and care for the whole human family, the earth, and all its creatures. Everyone who works for peace around the globe are the real leaders of humanity. We know what to expect from Biden, Trudeau, Zelensky, Macron, and Putin.

The only winners in war as we are seeing in Ukraine are misery and death. This is evident in the stream of refugees, destruction of precious farmland and another generation scarred and traumatized by war. Have none of our leaders studied history to know these realities are just being repeated in our century? The war profiteers grow rich off this misery: Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Electric and many more! Meanwhile innocent people die.

Pope Francis has talked about building a culture of peace. So I just want to leave you with a final thought especially those people of faith who are present but also for all of us. If you are a practicing Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or whatever tradition you belong to, go back to your congregations to your priests and ministers, rabbis, and imams and speak against this war, the war industries, purchase of weapons, and oppression of all peoples. If we can get the good people of our churches, mosques, synagogues and temples to join the peace movement and get into the streets we can create a movement that the politicians cannot ignore. We can create a culture of peace. The time has never been more urgent as we spiral closer and closer to an ever dangerous escalation of the Ukraine war to possible nuclear war. We must do this because every life is precious whether it be Ukrainian, Russian, Jewish, Palestinian, African etc. all the peoples of the earth, their lives matter and are equal to our own.

Thank you and Peace to All!

Greg Gillis, Pax Christi Toronto