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Last Saturday (27 April) demonstrators gathered for a protest march at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire from where drone attacks on Afghanistan are now controlled. On 7 May, the Drones Quilt – a project initiated by the Fellowship of Reconciliation – will be handed in at Downing Street. Between these two events, I heard a moving ministry from a Friend who had participated in making a square for the quilt.
The concept put forward by the Fellowship of Reconciliation – supported by peace groups across the country – is simple. Each square is stitched with the name of a human being killed by a drone attack. Its purpose is to restore humanity to those appearing on lists as killed or maimed and to remind people – especially those in power – that “for every single victim of a drone there was a real person with loves, desires and a life.”
Mog – like me – is no needlewoman. She told Meeting for Worship that she chose eight-year-old Noor Sayed for her square because the name was short and would not make too many demands on her limited skills. Nonetheless, it took longer that she had expected and as she pricked her fingers, dropped pins and tangled the thread, she found herself reflecting more and more on the child whose name she was picking out in blue wool and whose death in Pakistan in 2009 was categorised as “collateral damage”.
She wondered about Noor's appearance – was her hair straight or curly? Her nature – was she quiet and serious or mischievous and lively? What did her parents do for a living? What was their house like? And what was she doing in the moments before a drone-launched missile took her so brutally out of a life scarcely begun?
Mog googled for the meaning of the name 'Noor' and found it meant 'light'. Her own daughter's names have the same meaning. As she struggled through her stitching, she felt a growing sense of closeness to the child from so far away. I think none of us who heard Mog's witness will forget it. In a Quaker Meeting House in East Anglia, little Noor had become Everychild.
If only politicians, the pilots and the generals could be encouraged to sit and struggle with something they find difficult to execute. It might just give them the space to reflect that in armed conflict, all whom we kill are our own.
© Jill Segger is an Associate Director of Ekklesia with particular involvement in editorial issues. She is a freelance writer who contributes to the Church Times, Catholic Herald, Tribune, Reform and The Friend, among other publications. Jill is an active Quaker. See: http://www.journalistdirectory.com/journalist/TQig/Jill-Segger You can follow Jill on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/quakerpenTweet