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Peace education



Archive for March, 2023

Poet Antony Owen reflects on Peace education & publishes new poem ‘War Anniversary’.

By Blog Editor, on 1 March 2023

Antony Owen is a writer from Coventry with an avid interest in the psychological and physical affects of conflict. In World War II his Nan, Martha Sherriff was forcibly displaced with her children following the Luftwaffe bombing of Coventry. As a child/adolescent growing up in the 1980’s where nuclear war tensions were high and weapons were proliferated to nearly four times what they are today (55,000 nuclear weapons) this had a profound affect on his interest in modern conflicts. Since 2009 Owen has had nine volumes of poetry published by many presses internationally and his work is widely translated. His 2017 book The Nagasaki Elder (VPress) was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry and he was also a winner of the Museum of Military Medicine Poetry Award in 2018.  He has met survivors in Hiroshima, Dresden and Coventry and has a passion for peace education and the role poetry and arts has to play in raising awareness of the consequences that conflict has on people in both the immediate and longer term.


I am writing this with a heavy heart at the first anniversary of the Ukrainian war and the ongoing escalations in nuclear weapon rhetoric. Despite feeling sad and deeply reflective about the lives consumed by this tragic war I am hopeful as Peace education has never been so active. With organisations and individuals working together to guide the next generation to better understand the consequences of warfare away from a video game or Hollywood film. The reality of war is far more devastating but seeing the progressive and balanced work CND Peace Education and places like the education team at Quakers UK is hopeful. These organisations continue to provide high quality teaching resources to meet the needs of student curiosity about the world of conflict, providing them with a balance away from aggressive militarisation.

A few years ago I visited Jogakuin School in Hiroshima where 350 students and teachers died from the atomic bomb explosion in 1945. At the existing school I conducted a Peace education lesson to students using a visual stimulus of over 2050 dots on a blackboard that represented a nuclear test conducted since the last atomic bomb on Nagasaki on 9th August 1945. We discussed how this made them feel, how they thought atomic bomb survivors felt, how the Marshall islanders and people from the Polygon and Aleut people felt seeing their land poisoned. They were undoubtedly very sad. Peace education in Hiroshima is mandatory and embedded into their social conscience in the hope they will never suffer again. With their American teacher we discussed Truman’s quote justifying use of the atomic bombs where Truman said “Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned of obeying international laws of warfare” (Source: PBS). The student responses included points that the tens of thousands of children and babies that were killed from the atomic bombings were not responsible for the cruelty to American Prisoners of war. Another point from our discussion was the dozen American POWs killed in the blast. This helped us to consider the different views involved that are not expressed in the speech from Truman and why Peace education provides that criticality.

I read a poem on the bombing of Hiroshima inspired by the testimony of an atomic bomb survivor the perspective was welcomed. Flags and nationalities are not respected by nuclear weapons and we know that all will be lost if a nuclear war was to happen. This is the most compelling insight I have had to the power of Peace education and poetry. The Quakers, CND Peace Education, ICAN, UCL PESIG are playing a key role in Peace education which is why the Quakers and CND Peace education can use my poems as they wish to advance their work in UK schools.

The poem below is written for the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine War and is dedicated to ALL victims in that conflict and to our inspirational school students and teachers in creating a more informed and peaceful world for the future.


War Anniversary


Let us for a moment

be patriotic to human life

think of flags as swaddled babes

their burst eardrums of bomb tinnitus


Let us for a moment

remember a beautiful blooding

a baby made in the kiln of her mother

wanting only the sonar of scent and milk.


What have we learnt?

that frozen ground can warp spades

of bodies covered in ghost white sheets

haunting the bones from previous massacres.


What have we learnt?

when wheat bends away from the scythe

and the mad machinery destroys mother earth

all because of locusts who leave nothing but plague.


Let us for a moment

pledge allegiance to life

learn that compromise is not Armageddon

to remember a baby today shall lead us tomorrow.