Monthly Archives: May 2014

Fear and other motivations…

Since our most recent blockade at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Burghfield last week, I’ve been thinking a lot again about fear, stress, and what it is that guides and motivates us. On our way to the base, I was feeling particularly nervous – the combination of the practical things that needed to happen to make our action work well, combined with the potential legal penalties made for a rich cocktail that fed fear and nerves, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one feeling that way! Fear can be pernicious and I’ve found one of it’s little tactics is found in the desire to ‘find a way out’ can be powerful; the little voice saying “you don’t have to do this, you don’t have to be here, it’s OK to bail out…” can sometimes be making a lot of sense, but it can also be a voice driven by fear.

On that journey, driving through the Berkshire countryside at half past six in the morning, I found myself looking for a source of motivation, of something to be guided by that wasn’t stress, fear, or even determination and desire to be effective (whose counterpoint is the fear of being ineffective) – I was looking for something that put the action we were about to take into a wholly different context, beyond the pressure of being right or wrong, beyond effectiveness and failure. I wanted my actions that day to be born out of love, and while that feels easy to type, and easy to say in comfortable, warm, safe spaces, it didn’t feel immediately easy while sat in that van!

Looking out of the windows though, we were met with a deer running across the road, beautiful rays of dawn light through big, leafy trees, gentle mists, and – as we approached the boundary fence of one of the most abhorent places in the country- a bird (a Jay, I think) flew briefly fly alongside the van. Breathing gently and purposefully – finding those little seeds of joy and love, as Thich Nhat Hanh might say – and thinking about the beauty of the creation we’re so blessed to live among, every day, became a wonderfully rich source of guidance and strength, taking me a long way from the logic of fear. As we approached the gate of the base, opened the doors and got the lock-ons out of the van, jumped into the road, and blocked the gate, I felt glad to be where I was and doing what I was doing – once we were in the road, I felt happy and content (a long way from where I’d felt a few minutes previously!) Managing to see the world with eyes of love felt like a deep moment of prayer; I felt like was able to carry my fear much more gently afterwards.

Reading back, it can seem almost trite to recall those minutes in the approach in such a way, but the experience was once again a lesson in not letting fear be the sole, overwhelming force that it can become. There are other, brighter, lighter, more gentle emotions and experiences to be guided by, and we’re surrounded by them every day. While we were locked on, we witnessed a Red Kite treat the SOCPA law – which consider anyone who dares enter designated areas as a terrorist – with a beautiful disregard for the ridiculous contractions humans have set around particular areas of land, as it flew over the base! Even when legitimate and logical, fear is paralysing and disabling; it can stop us acting with the love we hope to. Seeing the world with eyes of love, even just very briefly, is empowering and nurturing. I felt lucky to be able to take the action we did, and glad to briefly find those little seeds of joy and love that fed my spirit while lying in that road.

In peace

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“Arms are the main reason for the war. … We pray for those making and selling arms, that compassion fill their hearts. May God change the hearts of the violent and those who seek war and those who make and sell arms. And may he strengthen the hearts and minds of peacemakers and grant them every blessing,” Pope Francis, Amman, Jordan, May 2014

“Arms are the m…

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Christians disrupt Berkshire nukes factory by joining blockade of entrance

Traffic is not entering the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Burghfield in Berkshire this morning, as critics of nuclear arms have blocked a major gate into the site by chaining themselves together. Many of those involved are Christians, including Anglicans, Quakers and others.

Eight people, aged between 19 and 40, lay down in the gateway at 7.20am, causing traffic intended for the facility to queue up along the road. The eight lying in the road are supported by others standing nearby to offer support and to liaise with police, site staff and the public. Several members of the group are now singing hymns while locked together in the gateway.

They are taking the action just ahead of European elections and a year before the general election. They want all candidates to commit themselves to opposing the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system, which polls show is opposed by the majority of the public.

Burghfield is one of the AWE’s two sites, seven miles from the better-known Aldermaston site.

The Christians are working alongside other supporters of Action AWE, a grassroots campaigning network, which is open to people of all religions and none.

They say that they felt led to take action due to the failure of governments to halt the evil of nuclear weapons production or to respond to public opinion.

Andrew Dey, 25, an Anglican from Bradford, explained his motivation before he lay down in the gateway:

The nonviolent Christ entered situations of violence and brought love, light and truth. In the same way, I believe Christians should be taking action against weapons of mass destruction, such as the Trident nuclear weapons system.

Hannah Brock, 28, a Quaker from London, who is also blocking the gate, added:

I cannot stand by while the British government gives itself the power to murder millions, into the next generation. This isn’t the way of Jesus.

Also in the gateway is Joanna Frew, 35, a member of the United Reformed Church, who lives in London but is originally from Scotland. She explained:

Trident is illegal, immoral and a waste of money. It is the opposite of everything that Jesus teaches us about being co-creators of life and loving your enemies. Political and religious leaders in Scotland are opposed to retaining Trident at Faslane. We have a real opportunity over the next year to say that it is no longer acceptable , and that we don’t want an illegal renewal.

Other people who are blocking the gate include Chloe Skinner, 26, an Anglican from Sheffield, who was recently acquitted of aggravated trespass at the London arms fair.

They are joined by Catherine Bann, 40, from Todmorden; Amy Clark, 19, from Bradford; Matt Fawcett, 39, from Yorkshire CND; and Phil Wood, 20, from Bradford.

For detailed updates on what is happening at the site, please follow @ActionAWE and @PutDowntheSword on Twitter.


  1. Action AWE is a grassroots campaign of nonviolent actions dedicated to halting nuclear weapons production at AWE. Action AWE is committed to active nonviolence. It includes people of several religions and none.
  2. Operated by a consortium of Jacobs Engineering Group, Lockheed Martin and Serco, AWE Burghfield plays an integral part in the final assembly and maintenance of nuclear warheads for use in the Trident system. In 2011 Peter Luff, the then Minister for Defence Equipment, announced £2 billion of spending for redevelopment of the Burghfield and Aldermaston weapons factories. The total spending on Weapons of Mass Destruction in the UK will soar to over £100bn should the government take the decision to renew Trident in 2016.
  3. The UK government has an armed nuclear submarine on patrol and ready to fire at all times, with the ability to wipe out cities almost anywhere on earth within 15 minutes. The UK government has a stockpile of around 225 nuclear warheads, each with eight times the explosive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, that killed an estimated 140,000 to 200,000 people. Running the Trident nuclear weapons system currently costs £2 billion a year and has not seen any of the cutbacks facing other government spending and public services. The government will vote in 2016 to decide whether to invest in the UK’s Trident nuclear weapon system for another 30 years.Trident is not an “independent” system, but is dependent on technical support from the US.
  4. Eight people blocked the construction gate at AWE Burghfield at about 7.20am today. They are supported by a number of others standing nearby to offer support and to help with communication. Although many of those involved are Christians, they are happy to be working alongside other supporters of Action AWE of different religions and none.
  5. Polls consistently show that well over half of the British public are opposed to the renewal of Trident. The figure appears to be rising, with 79% opposing Trident renewal in a Guardian poll only last month. Please see
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