Kelly speaks on peace and nonviolence

Grace Christiansen

Last Thursday, Students for Leftist Action brought activist Kathy Kelly to the Lawrence campus to give a lecture titled “To Counter Terror, Build Justice: Reflections about Security in a Time of War.”Kelly’s lecture largely consisted of narratives about her time spent in Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel. The narratives focused on the unfairness of the suffering and death of children in wartime, as well as Kelly’s time in prison and the women she met while there.

Through her entrancing storytelling, Kelly captivated the audience and humanized the people in her stories — the people she met on her travels were real, with interests and lives outside of the wars they were living with.

One such story she told was that of a little girl whose favorite game was to pretend to die after being shot with a rifle. At the end of her lecture, Kelly sang a famous Sibelius tune in Arabic, which was the same song a group of Iraqi schoolchildren sang to her after she visited their ruined fine arts center.

Last Friday Kelly held an interactive workshop titled “Courage for Peace, Not for War: the Further Invention of Nonviolence” in Riverview Lounge. The workshop was “designed to build empathy for people most burdened by U.S. priorities that direct our resources toward war and weapons,” said Kelly in an SLA press release.

Kelly opened the workshop by looking around the circle gathered in Riverview and exclaiming, “I’m awestruck by how many people care about peace!” One main focus of the workshop was what Kelly referred to as the “war against the poor in this country.”

Throughout the workshop, attendees role-played several situations, including single mothers below the poverty line talking with their children and Iraqi family members contemplating sending their only brother to join an insurgent militia for protection.

Kelly ended the workshop by expressing her hope for the future. She told participants that there are three things we can do to help promote nonviolence: simple living, sharing of resources, and preferring service to dominance.