Anne McCullagh-DLyske is a war tax resister and an Executive Committee member of Conscience: Taxes For Peace Not War. She is also the Coordinator of Conscience in Scotland. She has been tireless in organising the 15th International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns which is taking place in Edinburgh later this month. http://www.conscienceonline.org.uk/international-conference-2019/
Below, Anne shares her story:
“I was first introduced to the concepts of pacifism whilst a schoolgirl by learning about Benjamin Britten’s stance during the war. Then at Trinity College of Music, Bruce Kent was my college chaplain and my doom was sealed! He raised my consciousness and got my spiritual butt moving…. and I’ve been ‘fighting’ the good fight ever since. (Even our language is riddled with militarisms!)
My father was a colonel in the British Army and I grew up within the Royal Signals family, travelling extensively with my parents on their many postings abroad.
But my developing anti-nuclear convictions, and eventual out and out War Tax Resistance and Conscientious Objector position never distressed him. He said that at heart no soldier wants to kill but has to do so if that is what his / her duty demands. He was always the realist.
Thirty or so years ago I used to join John McDonnell and others in the Houses of Parliament to dream and plan for an eventual Ministry for Peace. Now Labour have a Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament – and Conscience presented to Parliament our report that we commissioned to look into the practical pros and cons of such an endeavour. http://www.conscienceonline.org.uk/minister-for-peace-and-disarmament/
Times – they are a-changing! There is a sea change abroad …
But politicians are still far too quick to jump off the mark – with their knee-jerk reactions throwing our young men and women into fields of combat that are always morally debatable and frankly sometimes downright, totally illegal.
Our cultural attitude to war and defence needs a complete overhaul and with the work that we have done within Conscience and will continue to do, I hope that we are contributing to the debate and public discourse with our suggestions for a more humane, considered and brighter future.
My personal long-term aim is to get the Peace Tax concept established within the highest levels of International law: not only in the UK but right through and up to the UN level worldwide.
No one anywhere should be forced into war tax slavery – because that is how the status quo rests at the moment. The whole of humanity is in thrall to the worldwide defence industry with no way out.
We are all facing extinction and our outmoded and ludicrously expensive dependence on violence is contributing to our demise.
We have to decide before it is too late. We either continue to pay for the self-destructive, self indulgence of war or we as a species must commit to a better way and choose to pay for the building of lasting peace based on justice for all.
I have never paid for a weapon of war and I never will.
But I want us all … all of us … all over the world to enjoy the right of being allowed to earn an honest crust without it having been obligatorily drenched in the spilt blood of our fellow man and woman.
This is our great task – to make such a simple thing so.
This is my personal hope, and this is my personal dream.”
Many thanks to Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre for the photos. They were taken at the Conscientious Objectors Day Vigil in Edinburgh on 15 May 2019. You can read a report of the event here: http://peaceandjustice.org.uk/8533-2/