Richard’s story

In this post Richard, from Horsham in West Meeting in Sussex, explains why he is joining Roots of Resistance in taking action against the DSEI arms fair.

For a number of years prior to becoming a Quaker I was the senior writer and editor for all print communications produced in support of the Army’s recruitment efforts and was a freelance, also employed on the Army campaign prior to this. The period of time during which I was involved spanned the decision to go into Iraq, the London bombings in which my friend was killed, the slow and terrible realisation that Saddam Hussein had not had weapons of mass destruction and, finally, the privatisation of Army recruiting which I also worked on.

At some point in the middle of this, I wandered into a Meeting in Richmond and found that I had space to sit and think and, later on, to articulate my growing sense of unease at what I found myself doing. My marriage collapsed, I resigned from the company who had the Army account, my life fell apart, then started being remade and a couple of years ago I formally became a Quaker, completing what I had started some years previously.

My decision to get involved with the campaign against DESI surprised me. I’m not a natural protester and, indeed, have never been on a protest at all. When it comes to my politics, I’m probably a small ‘c’ conservative and I can’t imagine a time when I’ll ever describe myself as a radical. I’m also not a pacifist, although I have considerable respect for people who are. The friend who died in the July bombings was Jewish and her parents would have been killed had this country been invaded in the Second World War. Both my grandparents fought and, standing in the concentration camp at Majdanek a few years ago, with all its many and manifest horrors, I was grateful that they did.

But I do feel that I have a fairly strong moral compass that tells me when something is wrong. The campaign I was involved with to recruit soldiers under 18 was wrong, and selling arms to anyone with enough money is also wrong. And so here I am.