Chair's report to Pax Christi 2020 AGM

  • Holly Ball

Holly Ball, the outgoing Chair of Pax Christi England and Wales gave the following report at the AGM of Pax Christi, on Sunday, 7 June, which was held via zoom.

In my article in the Annual Report, I talked about the past year. Today I want to talk about the future.

We are living in the Covid Era - a perfect storm of pandemic, mass unemployment, a global financial crash, systemic racism and inequality. Amid pandemic uncertainty, two things are clear. First, the virus is universal and ubiquitous - a threat to all humankind. Second, its impacts are deeply unequal, determined by social class, race, ethnicity, income, nutrition, education, living conditions, geographical location, gender, age and even 'celebrity'.

Racism

As an American, I am deeply disturbed and sad about what is happening in my country. The horrific death of George Floyd shocked the world, but it has also been a wake-up call that racism, and hatred must end. I grew up with racism, inequality, police brutality and white supremacy. I graduated from high school in 1969, and I never went to school with a black person. Schools were still segregated in the South, and this was over 100 years after the end of the American Civil War. Think about that. Racism is deeply engrained in the American psyche. Taming racism is not the responsibility of those who suffer its consequences. All races, ethnicities and classes need to be part of that movement. The spirit of George Floyd is making that happen. He did not die in vain.

Pax Christi's response: To fight apartheid in Israel/Palestine. Palestinians are treated like American blacks - a 'problem' to be controlled and dehumanised. Our work there is essential.

Climate change

The environment has thrived in this period of lockdown. The lack of airplanes, cars and other polluters has made our air cleaner and carbon emissions the lowest in decades. We have an opportunity to start fresh and build on this unexpected bonanza.

Pax Christi response: To continue our educational work on the environment and climate change, using 'Laudato si' as our platform.

Nonviolence, especially in schools, knife crime

Young people are very aware of the dangerous and violent world they live in. Working with schools, Pax Christi can reach out to young people and show them that there is another way.

Pax Christi's response: The NonvioLENT initiative can be used as a highlight of the school year.

Nuclear weapons

The Covid pandemic has proved that nuclear weapons are powerless against an invisible enemy. We are wasting billions that could be used for healthcare, climate change actionand a host of social causes.

Pax Christi response: To work for the redeployment of Trident funding to tangible initiatives that build up our society.

Essential key workers

The pandemic has proved who are really the essential workers, those who have kept us going throughout the lockdown. You know who they are, and it is time not merely to clap for them, but to rectify the injustice that they are some of the lowest paid workers in the country. It is time for a guaranteed living wage for all, or a universal basic income

Pax Christi response: Work on justice for all.

A revolutionary agenda

A revolutionary agenda for the post-pandemic world includes meaningful steps to address poverty and the north-south wealth gap, more urgent approaches to climate, energy, water and mass extinction crises, and an economic system that measures prosperity by counting shared social, health and environmental benefits, not GDP growth. It may seem like pie in the sky. But so too did the idea of millions working from home, and halting road and air travel, until it happened almost overnight. We find ourselves doing and saying things we never dreamed we would do or say.

Whether recognised as such or not, this is a revolutionary manifesto, and if it is pursued - as many believe it must be - it will demand the transformation of political behaviour and all of society.

This feels different. This is a moment. This is not an era of change but a change of era.

May Pax Christi be a bold voice in this new post-Covid manifesto. Let the revolution begin.

LINK

https://paxchristi.org.uk/


Tags: Pax Christi, Holly Ball, Covid-19

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