Tenth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns - Brussels, Belgium 2004

Workshop 2: Forms of Action and Exchange of Action Experiences

Led by Tim Godshall (USA), 7 participants

3.2

We had a good discussion of how to go about changing the way society views military violence. In Belgium, due to a successful media campaign, drunk driving is now considered unacceptable, which was not always the case. How can the peace movement come to make war and preparation for war also unacceptable?

Here are some ideas we thought of. 

  1. Come up with ways to publicly recognize peacemakers. The military has many ceremonies to provide honor to its members who it approves of. What are ways that the peace movement could provide recognition to its participants?
    • Idea: Give a Peace Oscar annually to a film that promotes peaceful values or debunks war myths, like Fahrenheit 9-11
    • Idea: On war holidays, hold events which mourn the tragedy of war, or celebrate humanity, or do something to propose that there must be a better way to solve our problems than killing each other.
  2. Engage the public with creative and interactive demonstrations:
    • Nonviolent Civil Disobedience: War Tax Resistance is an act of civil disobedience, but it is often not seen publicly. Doing public civil disobedience raises the awareness of the issue.
    • Idea: massive nonviolent civil disobedience to shut down federal buildings on tax day. (April 15 is the day that taxes are due in the US)
    • Street theater and eye-catching visuals : People generally are drawn to things that look interesting. Make your form of protest stand out so people will notice.
    • Idea: Dress up as a military officer and go down the line thanking people who are standing in line waiting to pay their taxes, then show them how much they actually pay for the military.
    • Idea: Very large graphic, such as long strips of cloth laid out in a public plaza, demonstrating military spending.
    • Interactive activities: If people are given a chance to think for themselves, they might learn more than if they are just given information.
    • Idea: Penny Poll – give people 10 cents (pennies) and ask them to place the pennies into jars in proportion to the way they would want their tax money to be spent. Then show them information on how it is really spent.
  3. Provide Real Alternatives to Military Defense

    This idea was explained in much more detail in some other workshops. If people don't have any sense of what are alternatives to military defense, then they will be less likely to support or understand those of us who are conscientiously opposed to paying for war and its preparation. Promoting conflict mediation skills and other forms of security were mentioned.

  4. Use internet technology effectively.

    There are many well-organized public advocacy campaigns going on using the internet. One example is MoveOn.org, which enables hundreds of thousands of US citizens to e-mail their representatives about legislation.