Peace, peace to far and near - Livre d'Or








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livredor
Peace, peace to far and near
Thursday, 13 July 2006 at 08:17 pm
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So a while back there was a meme for people to post anti-war songs. I thought that was a good meme, but at the time I didn't participate because I thought, I don't know any anti-war songs except really obvious ones like Universal Soldier and Blowing in the wind. I realized somewhat belatedly that I do in fact know the several Israeli anti-war songs, including the Song for Peace. I started composing a translation of it and found it was coming out with scansion. What I ended up with was not really a translation of the song as such, but a poem based on my (probably reliable) memory of my (almost certainly unreliable) transcription of the song. It's not really good enough for public but it's not bad enough to destroy and try to forget the memory of having written it, so here you go:

Let the sun rise
To light the morning –
Prayer's purest eyes
See no returning;
Whose light is out
Who sleeps in dust
No bitter shout
Brings back to us,
From death's dark pit
No man is raised.
All empty now are victory's joy
And songs of praise!

So only sing the song of peace,
Forget your mumbled prayers,
Better to sing the song of peace,
Shout it loud!


Let the sun shine
To greet the flowers.
Don't look behind;
The dead aren't ours.
We can't just say
"The day shall come!"
We'll bring that day,
We'll sing our song
In every town
From west to east,
Our many voices all as one
Shout out for peace.


It's so tempting right now to pray for peace. That would be the wrong thing to do for me personally, in my religious framework, if I don't also do something practical to make peace happen. I really don't know what though. Of course, it's far too easy to feel helpless to have any effect on distant foreign wars, but that feeling is worse right now, as a foreigner in a country where I have no contacts and don't know how these things work. Does anyone have any suggestions? Even something as simple as a charity I could donate to would be a good start.

And if you don't have any ideas about that, suggestions for improving the poemlet are also welcome. I'm particularly concerned about the line: All empty now are victory's joy / And songs of praise! because while it's obviously a plural statement grammatically, aesthetically it feels like it should be singlular. Any ideas?


Whereaboooots: Stockholm, Sweden
Moooood: distresseddistressed
Tuuuuune: Sisters of Mercy: Under the gun
Discussion: 16 contributions | Contribute something
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From:lyssiae
Date:July 13th, 2006 06:58 pm (UTC)
10 minutes after journal entry
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Would you expand a bit on why praying for peace would be wrong for you? I don't mean this to sound antagonistic, and apologise if it does; I'm simply curious.
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livredor: words
From:livredor
Date:July 15th, 2006 04:09 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 04:09 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
I didn't say it would be wrong for me to pray for peace, I said it would be wrong if I don't also do something practical to make peace happen. It's a cornerstone of my whole religious approach that where the world is broken, it is in part my responsibility to fix it. It would be wrong for me to just sit back and say, oh well, I'm just an ordinary person with no real political influence, so here, you're a big omnipotent God, you sort this out. That, for me, would make a mockery of ever attempting to live a moral and Godly life at all.

If I tried to make myself feel like a good person by praying for peace, it would be wrong because it would be a false prayer. If I really wanted to peace I would get off my posterior and do something towards peace. And it's wrong to speak the words of a prayer for something that one doesn't sincerely want, in my view.
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From:lyssiae
Date:July 15th, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry
(Link)
Ah! My apologies, I read that paragraph too hastily and didn't take enough care in really understanding it. Thanks for taking the time to explain a little.
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lethargic_man: serious
From:lethargic_man
Date:July 13th, 2006 07:10 pm (UTC)
21 minutes after journal entry, 07:10 pm (lethargic_man's time)
(Link)
Leaving aside the situation in Lebanon, if you're going to pray I suggest you pray for someone to knock together the heads of the senior figures in the Israeli and Palestinian administrations. All this demanding the release of known terrorists and Israel understandably rejecting it isn't getting anyone anywhere. What the Palestinians need to put on the table is: lighten up on us, and we'll release the soldier and lighten up on you. I wholeheartedly agree with the need for Israel to impose a military occupation in at least parts of the West Bank; I wholeheartedly disagree with the way it's being done. If Israel backed off—kept interference in Palestinian daily life to a minimum, stopped harrassing them according to a predetermined schedule, stopped cutting them off from their own land, etc—support for the terrorist cause would wither. (Not die completely, just wither.)

But the chances of getting the powers that be to see that, well *shrug*.
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livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:July 15th, 2006 04:22 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 04:22 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
The thing is, it's not as if I know the magic solution which will allow Israel to live in peace with all her neighbours, bring justice to the Palestinians, sort out all the tensions in Lebanon and Syria, and the longer range political effects of the situations in Iran and Iraq and so on. So I don't see the point in praying for the senior people to make particular decisions because I simply don't know what those decisions should be. And if I did know the answers I would be at least as inclined to write to Israeli politicians or European politicians who might have influence with them to tell them so, rather than telling God who (one may assume) already knows any true idea I happen to come up with.

As it is if I am going to pray, I will almost certainly be praying:
Send Your light and Your truth to the leaders of [Israel's] people, and guide them with wisdom and understanding, so that peace may reign on its borders and tranquility in its homes
- RSGB siddur, (c) 1977
Does that count as the sort of thing you are suggesting?
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lethargic_man: serious
From:lethargic_man
Date:July 16th, 2006 10:49 am (UTC)
2 days after journal entry, 10:49 am (lethargic_man's time)
(Link)
Well yes, but actually I was more ranting about the politics than wording for prayers...
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rysmiel: all these moments will be lost in time
From:rysmiel
Date:July 13th, 2006 07:10 pm (UTC)
22 minutes after journal entry, 03:10 pm (rysmiel's time)
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As good anti-war songs go, I'm sure I played you "House of Orange" when you were here, it's the one that always makes me cry.

Also, this I found rather heartening.
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redbird: default
From:redbird
Date:July 13th, 2006 10:38 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 05:38 pm (redbird's time)
(Link)
I find it heartening that Harper is taking that position, but I think the other thing he's overlooking is that, to anyone who hates capitalism or the West, the United States is a much more obvious target. Were ethnic diversity sufficient, the World Trade Center would still be standing, and helping support the economy of one of our Chinatowns.
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livredor: letters
From:livredor
Date:July 15th, 2006 04:26 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 04:26 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Yes, you did indeed play me that song, thank you. It's very much yours though, it would seem presumptuous for me to post it. It took a little squinting to read the thing that that song is anti as being war, specifically, but now I've thought about it, yes it is.
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rysmiel: accion mutante
From:rysmiel
Date:July 17th, 2006 06:30 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 02:30 pm (rysmiel's time)
(Link)
It's very much yours though, it would seem presumptuous for me to post it.

I thank you for your consideration, but I'm not sure I think it would be, or would have been; "House of Orange" is very much a song reacting to terrorism in Ireland, yes, but causes are ashes where children lie slain strikes me as pretty much a universal, and their sons have no politics, none can recall/The causes of long generations before as a direction for hope, if not a perfect one. Which feels particularly right to me, living somewhere that had serious ethnic terrorism problems in 1970 which have been categorically eliminated; lots of places could I think learn from the example of the October Crisis in terms of balancing liberty and security.
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smhwpf: Treebeard
From:smhwpf
Date:July 13th, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 11:39 pm (smhwpf's time)
(Link)
Lovely song. Somehow "All empty now are songs of praise and victory's joy" seems to me to have a better ring to it, in terms of beat, even if it's the wrong way round. And it makes the plural sound better.

As for things to do - well, you know where I stand on all this if you read my journal at all, but - write to Ehud Olmert? Margaret Beckett? Can seem pretty lame, I know, but it's something. Subscribe to Gush Shalom, the Israeli peace campaign? Or European Jews for a Just Peace, who have a Swedish branch, with an English version of their website!
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livredor: portrait
From:livredor
Date:July 15th, 2006 04:55 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 04:55 pm (livredor's time)
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Thank you, this is a really helpful comment! I was hoping you'd say something since you know both the peace movement and the Swedish scene in particular. European Jews for a Just Peace sounds like a very good place to start; in some ways I would prefer to get involved with Jewish peace movements, because at least I don't have to worry that they might start blaming me for everything that is wrong with the world at the moment. Though in general I believe it is good for Jews to be seen to be involved in this sort of activism outside a specifically Jewish context.

Something like writing to Beckett (and indeed Blair and my local MP) is exactly what I'd do if I were in the UK. But why should they take an expat seriously? I really need to write to their Swedish equivalents, but then I don't know who they are (well, I know who the PM is at least, but not the others!) and I don't know the system well enough to know how to maximise my chances of getting such people to listen to me.

(At this point I have absolutely given up on the UK government, mind you. I would possibly consider voting Labour if they radically changed their policy on just about every issue. This is irrelevant as I won't be voting in the UK for at least a couple of years though. And if things don't improve there I am probably not going to return.)

Thanks for the comments on the verse, too. I guess I have already broken my rhyme scheme by putting that non-rhyming long line there, but still.
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smhwpf: Buffy Restless
From:smhwpf
Date:July 16th, 2006 12:58 am (UTC)
2 days after journal entry, 01:58 am (smhwpf's time)
(Link)
since you know both the peace movement and the Swedish scene

Ha, really don't know the Swedish scene (except some of the ISM Sweden people I met out there), as the language issue and the fact I was only there 8 months stopped me getting involved. I mean, the fact that while everyone speaks English, I felt I couldn't join groups out of work because I couldn't expect everyone else to speak English on my account. But I know, as you say, the peace movement, and I know Google. :)

...in some ways I would prefer to get involved with Jewish peace movements, because at least I don't have to worry that they might start blaming me for everything that is wrong with the world at the moment. Though in general I believe it is good for Jews to be seen to be involved in this sort of activism outside a specifically Jewish context.

Yeah... I think it's important to start somewhere you feel safe. And I think it's very valuable for Jewish groups to be saying, as Jews, "not in my name". (Did you see about the advert condeming Israel's Gaza campaign signed by 300+ British Jews btw?)

But why should they take an expat seriously?

Because you can still vote for them. UK Expats have voting rights in the UK for 15 years. (Most EU countries have no time limits for their citizens.) You may choose not to exercise that right, but they don't know that.:)

But yeah, British politics right now, yeek. Sweden's so much nicer in that regard! Though when I was there, it was right in the build-up to the Iraq war, I was there when it started, and it was frustrating in a way, I felt, as it were, hors de combat, as the Swedish government was always opposed to the war anyway. We had a very big demo for Sweden on Feb 15, about 35,000, but hardly compared to London!
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lethargic_man: reflect
From:lethargic_man
Date:July 16th, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry, 04:50 pm (lethargic_man's time)
(Link)
(At this point I have absolutely given up on the UK government, mind you. I would possibly consider voting Labour if they radically changed their policy on just about every issue. This is irrelevant as I won't be voting in the UK for at least a couple of years though. And if things don't improve there I am probably not going to return.)

You used to consider that the UK was your country. Consider the way political pendulums swing back and forth; in the longer run nobody is ever going to have the government they would want in more than, on average, fifty per cent of the time; and at all times governments will do things you disapprove of. Also, no government's stand is going to match yours on all issues. Is this grounds to renounce your residency of your homeland? I don't remember a mass exodus of, say, trades unions activists and miners in the mid-eighties.
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rysmiel: scale error
From:rysmiel
Date:July 17th, 2006 06:36 pm (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 02:36 pm (rysmiel's time)
(Link)
in the longer run nobody is ever going to have the government they would want in more than, on average, fifty per cent of the time; and at all times governments will do things you disapprove of.

This isn't, to my mind, a qualitiative thing, but a quantitative one; how far can you live with the pendulum swinging ? [ This aside from the question of how much trust one has in the processes allowing it to swing back and forth, which is to my mind a very different question in the US than in Britain at the moment; the current US regime does not seem to have the concept of "loyal opposition" in their conceptual universe, and that's a vital one for any democracy. ]

I'm not at all fond of the current Conservative government in Canada, but things like Harper's speech that I linked to above, and the point - lost the link now, but I posted it in my journal a while back - where they basically were capable of admitting to having lost the battle wrt same-sex marriage and that they were therefore going to stop fighting it, make them people I'm still happy to live under, and, when I'm in a position to do so, exercise my vote against. I'd not live in the US under its current government for any reason I can easily envision. Not at all sure how I'd feel about living in Blairstrip One these days, but hopefully that won't be an issue ever again.
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lethargic_man: default
From:lethargic_man
Date:July 17th, 2006 06:51 pm (UTC)
4 days after journal entry, 06:51 pm (lethargic_man's time)
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Not at all sure how I'd feel about living in Blairstrip One these days, but hopefully that won't be an issue ever again.

Well, for all he's in denial about it, we're not going to have Blair for much longer. "Would you like to go now, when half the country hates you, or at the end of your term, when everyone will hate you?" You'd have thought he might have learned from the fate of Mrs Thatcher...
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