Young Canadian Quakers on war & recruitment
After getting lost a couple of times, we eventually made our way out of Frankfurt and into Darmstadt, then out of Darmstadt’s city centre to a youth camp facility on the edge of the forest. Friday night’s programme consisted of a few quick introductory presentations from German, Israeli and Macedonian participants, and group discussions on military involvement and recruitment policies in different countries.
My group had representatives from Germany, Sweden, the UK, Israel, Canada and Macedonia. Anecdotes about the hyper-present, heavily involved military in Israel were interesting to hear, and equally fascinating were unexpected facts about militarism in the UK, which has extensive military involvement in childhood education and very sophisticated recruitment policies at all ages.
I was particularly surprised by the interest that we Canadians garnered; the idea of Canada as a peaceful, nonviolent nation is alive and well in Europe. Canada seems to come out fairly clean due to our proximity to the US, despite our involvement in Afghanistan and our participation in building tools for war for companies like Lockheed Martin. Many people at the conference were curious to find out more about the changes happening in Canada, and about the growing nationalist myth that the birth of the Canadian nation came out of our military involvement in WWI.
Later that evening, I was interviewed by one of WRI facilitators, Michael Schulze Von Glaßer, as part of a project that is mapping the changing involvement of the military in social and educational spheres in countries around the world. 1€ beer facilitated great conversation late into the night with lots of interesting people, including a group of South American activists, a former Jesuit from Liberia, and an Israeli activist from American Friends Service Committee.