Students for Leftist Action hosted peace activist, social justice advocate, and three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize Kathy Kelly Thursday, Jan. 31. Kelly gave a talk titled “To Counter Terror, Build Justice: Reflections about Security in a Time of War.””Regarding the so-called ‘war on terror’ which President Bush committed himself to fight, I find it much more worthwhile to ask ourselves how we might establish just and fair relations, including trade relations with other people, and thereby reduce the justifiable antagonisms people in other lands might have toward people in our country,” Kelly explained in an interview with The Lawrentian.
Kelly has been to Iraq 24 times since January 1996. In October 2002, she joined Iraq Peace Team members in Baghdad where she and the team maintained a presence throughout the bombardment and invasion. Kelly left Iraq April 19, 2003 and has returned three times, most recently in May 2006 when she traveled to northern Iraq.
“If we insist on taking other peoples’ precious and irreplaceable resources at cut-rate prices,” Kelly said, “then we can expect that there will be resentment, akin to what revolutionaries experienced when fighting against British occupation of the 13 colonies that eventually became the U.S.”
She continued, “I think actions should follow conviction, regardless of inconvenience.” “I’m convinced that we ought not allow wars to sever the bonds that can form between ourselves and people who bear the brunt, both physical and psychological, of war’s cruelty.”
Kelly definitely encourages others to join her mission. “Living simply, sharing resources radically, and preferring service to dominance are essential ingredients for nonviolent lifestyles,” she said.
“For students, it’s essential to reckon and wrestle with the reality that the U.S. has been waging a ‘low-intensity’ warfare against the biodiversity of the planet. The inevitable terror facing future generations will be caused by what we’re doing to the environment: global warming, depletion of fossil fuels, and failure to find alternative sources of energy.”
Sophomore Michael Schreiber, treasurer of SLA, stated that Kelly provides a unique perspective in that she “addresses poverty at home and abroad as one of the root causes of conflict.”
Kelly has taught in Chicago area community colleges and high schools since 1974. From 1980 to 1986 she taught at St. Ignatius College Prep. She is active with the Catholic Worker movement and, as a pacifist and war tax refuser, has refused payment of all Federal income tax for 26 years.
Based in the Chicago area, Kelly acts as both activist and educator. She has also written passionately about her social justice message in books, such as Other Lands Have Dreams: from Baghdad to Pekin Prison. She is also the co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and is one of the foremost members of Voices in the Wilderness.
In 1988 she was sentenced to one year in prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites. Kelly served nine months of the sentence in a Lexington, Ky. maximum-security prison. In the spring of 2004, she served three months at a prison in Pekin, Ill. for crossing the line as part of an ongoing effort to close an army military combat training school at Fort Benning, Ga.