Each year at the end of June, we Canadian Doukhobors commemorate our Russian Spirit Wrestlers ancestors who dropped their guns on Easter Sunday and then on midnight of June 28-29, 1895 destroyed their lethal weapons in a mass rally against militarism and wars. (Historic 1895 Burning of Guns Descriptions: Selections and translations by Koozma J. Tarasoff, Spirit-Wrestlers.com)
In Russian we called it Petrov Den' (Peter's Day in English). I think of it as a "Peace Day" because our ancestors' message of conscience is a reminder for us here today to be vigilant about the state of our society. Wars in the world are an ongoing concern about society’s health, but so are the hundreds of military bases that our US neighbour has around the world (manned by an estimated 310,000 troops) and their undemocratic practice of assassinating people they do not like. (First the 'targeted killing' campaign, then the targeted propaganda campaign, The Guardian, 6 June 2012)
As well, we ought to be concerned about the inequality of wealth found between the rich and the poor. This means we need to find a way to redistribute wealth, employing the use of social policy to provide free medical services and education to all.
In Canada, the current Conservative Government’s attempt to militarize our society should be a call for Canadians to stop this nonsense. Its intent to purchase fighter jets worth $35 billions is criminal. Who are we fighting against? The Russians, our northern neighbour, have indicated their willingness to cooperate together peaceful in Arctic development. (Who Owns The Artic? Arctic Sovereignty and International Relations, blog by attorney/professor Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair, Global Politics and International Law, University of British Columbia.)
In fact, the whole military industrial complex needs to be carefully scrutinized as a threat to society as should NATO which has long outlived its usefulness.
In honour of our Spirit Wrestlers ancestors, let’s reaffirm our intent to follow the Golden Rule of behaviour — especially the values of nonkilling, compassion, and love. Let’s stand up and be counted not only at the ballot box, but also in our daily lives. As our Quaker Friends have reminded us, ‘let’s take away the conditions that lead to war’.
In Canada, the Doukhobor Petrov Den' / Peace Day will be celebrated in the following centres:
- Saskatchewan, Verigin — National Doukhobor Heritage Village Home, June 29th, 11 a.m. with potluck and program to follow (contact: Sonia and Keith Tarasoff - 306-563-5941)
- Saskatchewan, Blaine Lake — Doukhobor Society service and lunch at the Doukhobor Community Home, June 24th, 11 a.m.
- Alberta, Lundbreck, — Doukhobor Community Home, June 24th, 11 a.m. with potluck and program to follow (contact: Michael Verigin - 403-628-3898)
- British Columbia, Castlegar — at the Verigin Memorial Park, June 24th, 10 a.m. with potluck and program to follow at the Doukhobor Discovery Centre at 12 noon (contact: Alex A. Wishlow - 250-428-4419)