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March 8, 2021

Former SAS soldier inspires others to work towards peace

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United in peace: Back row (from left): Rev Mark Harris (Anglicans), Sibomana Nzaramba (Baptists), John Allen (Buddhists), Rahul Thacker (Hindus), Rev John Thornton (Uniting Church), Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell, Sabina Baltruweit (RaH). Front row (from left): Larisa Barnes (RaH), Judith Light (Bahai’), Ruth Haig (Quakers), RJ Poole (RaH), Margaret Loong (RaH), Liora Claff (Jews), Fr Paul Pidcock (Catholics), Angela Pollard (Atheists)

A former member of the Australian army’s SAS Regiment, RJ Poole, believes he is well placed to encourage people to look at their values. Mr Poole is spokesperson for Remembering and Healing Inc (RaH), which held a gathering for International Day of Peace at the Lismore City Library on Friday September 21.

The event was well attended and representatives of different religious groups, including atheists, each offered a prayer/wish for peace, which was followed by a minute of silence.

As a young soldier RJ Pool had a very different attitude towards peace than he has now. His change of attitude makes him trust that everyone has the potential to change.

Mr Poole said he would like to encourage not only the wider community, but also others like him who have seen military service, to challenge themselves about how they might contribute to making this world a more loving, more peaceful place to live. He spoke of those former veterans and former military personnel who have experienced some form of trauma as a result of their service.

‘These people are largely silent about the challenges they face, because they are guys, and they don’t want to be seen as no longer strong. And they don’t want to appear disloyal to their former institution, and so they don’t speak up.

‘And yet the people who are best placed to teach us about the realities of war and military service are those who have experienced these firsthand. And, I believe, in a strange roundabout way, those who may be placed to help us value peace more, are these same people.’

RaH, now solidly established in Lismore, is looking to expand beyond the region and go Australiawide. The group offers mentoring and support for those who want to do similar work for peace. The main focus for RaH continues to be the expansion of the values around Anzac Day. All commemorations of war need to be all-inclusive, relevant to all modern Australians, irrespective of ethnic or cultural background or connections. And they need to always have as a strong component the wish for peace.

At the peace event on Friday Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell launched the exhibition A Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future, which is promoted by the international organisation Mayors for Peace. The exhibition will be on display at the foyer of the library for the next three weeks.


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