SEPTEMBER NEWS UPDATE
At our meeting on 6th August we began with an update on the Right to Work and the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living. The following letter was written in collaboration with Dr. M I van Dooren, Human Rights Office:
“We address you with this letter out of an increasing concern for the growing use of employment arrangements such as zero hours contracts. These contracts are not unlike piece-work and commission-only employment, in that they have the consequence (though not necessarily intentional) of evading reasonable commitments to employees.
“Too many of us know first hand the very real experiences of being out of work and accepting work that is without the prospect of earning a decent standard of living. As a consequence the state is being called upon to supplement the incomes of citizens despite their being employed. Contracts such as these mean that our local council has to deal with ever more frequent changes in circumstances of those seeking help with housing and council tax costs, placing further pressure on resources at a time they are trying to curb costs. Worse still are the numerous stories of those enduring real hardship through not claiming, despite their entitlement, as a matter of personal dignity.
“In this respect we would like to refer to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), a treaty ratified by the UK and therefore legally binding. The first paragraph of Article 6 of this treaty reads: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.” We would like to ask for your active assistance in the adoption of such measures that might address the concerns outlined above. This would also help with regard to the application by the UK of the right to work of Article 6 (ICESCR).
“We cannot believe that it is other than in everyone’s interest that citizens are able to be economically involved in their communities in jobs that afford them dignity and a standard of living that is not necessarily dependant on the financial assistance of the state. We would like to see that Members of Parliament, businesses, communities and all concerned citizens are meaningfully engaged in this matter.”
About 200 signatures were obtained for this and we sent emails of these to Secretary of State, Vince Cable; Tracy Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford; Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood; and Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham.
We have yet to have received a response from any of the four MP’s.
‘Article 6′ has begun to attract some attention. It only has the reference to the ICESCR on the page, without mention of NKH, in the interest of this being a service to the community without bias.
The topic of the August meeting was
‘Fossil Fuels: Where we are, where we want to be and how we get there.’
This is a subject that needs far more than one meeting. In preparation some 50 images were added on facebook in the album: https://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.607285435970431.1073741825.372540766111567&type=3
We had a general discussion of the subject. This included looking at it from the point of view of an unfettered use of fossil fuels can be considered a privilege we are presuming at the expense of future generations. The fact that the issue has been portrayed as a matter of ethics was shared and talked about.
Information on 350.org was shared and the name explained: 350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. 350.org was founded by U.S. author Bill McKibben, who wrote one of the first books on global warming for the general public, and a team of university friends.
Together, they ran a campaign in 2007 called Step It Up that organized over 2,000 rallies at iconic places in all 50 of the United States. These creative actions – from skiers descending a melting glacier to divers hosting an underwater action – helped convince many political leaders, including then Senator Barack Obama, to adopt our common call to action: cutting carbon 80% by 2050.
Change of venue in the near future…
We are negotiating a new home for our meetings. It has been a pleasure at Nucleus Arts – they continue to do great work – the move is to further collaborate with a community that shares so many of the same values, thinking and practice.
“Within our congregations you will find people who describe themselves as Christians, earth-spirit worshippers, Buddhists, Jews, humanists, agnostics and atheists. You will also find those who prefer to have no label and those who identify with the term ‘seeker’. While each individual takes responsibility for their own spiritual journey, we unite to celebrate the great mystery that transcends all traditions, all categories and all words.” This paragraph forms part of the Home Page of Chatham Unitarians (CUC) and clearly shows why we feel at home there.
We say ‘at home’ because North Kent Humanists (NKH) have been part of what goes on there for some time. We have jointly attended Kent Peace and Unity, visited the Gillingham Mosque in solidarity with their condemnation of the Drummer Lee Rigby Murder and upholding the Right to Freedom of Belief and supported each others activities for several years.
The Community Room is a secular space that is used by a growing number of charitable groups for social, educational and fund raising events. The local PACT (Partners and Communities Together), which brings together Police, Council, local institutions and residents, also use the Community Room as their venue. Full Frontal, a garden action group; the Council for Voluntary Service…
We look forward to seeing you there soon..
Service for World Peace
I cannot but feel the aching of the heart in these words. Love is not just the absence of hate but a powerful force that you need to acknowledge in order to partake in its bounty. Love is given but not always received. For that there has to be an openness to being loved.
Likewise peace is not merely the absence of war. It is a reaching out to mutual respect and understanding. More so it is to reach out where respect and understanding don’t yet exist.
We acknowledge the bravery of those who defend us from aggression. Yet, let us consider the bravery of the peacemaker. I know I do not wish to engage in war but could I stand in front of the one who killed my mother or my father, murdered my brother or my sister, slaughtered my husband or my wife, slayed my son or my daughter? Would I have the courage to find a love that is greater than my fear?
Also, would I find the courage to stand before my brethren and implore them not to fight and not be cowered by taunts of ‘Traitor’ or ‘Coward’? Would my conviction stay true surrounded by so much anger and pain?
Yet the aching for peace does remain as strong as the aching for love. Let us take some time in silence to reflect through the window of our personal beliefs and values; to consider the attitude and conduct we each need if we are to build a peace strong enough to prevent war.