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Kathy Kelly urges peaceful action

A Report by Sofia Walker '11

Kathy Kelly, co-coordinater for Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org), shared some of her life experience at the Chapel on November 14, 2010.

America's military presence in various countries of the Middle East drags on. The numbers of American dead grow steadily; the numbers of civilians in occupied countries killed or maimed by American attacks or Drone bombings grow more quickly. On Sunday, November 14, Northampton residents, students, and activists congregated in Helen Hills Hills Chapel to hear renowned peacemaker Kathy Kelly speak about the situation in Afghanistan.

Kelly is one of the founders of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, an anti-war group founded in 2005. She has also published books, been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize thrice, and been arrested more than sixty times. Her talk focused on her recent travels in Afghanistan, and the horrors she witnessed there.

She explained that the code of hospitality in Afghanistan dictates that one must take in strangers in need, and this has led to the deaths of many innocent families who temporarily and unknowingly harbored an Al Qaeda operative or someone otherwise wanted by the US government. These attacks are carried out by Drones, remotely operated bomb-carrying aircraft.

After describing some of the emotional and physical traumas caused by these attacks, Kelly explained why she reported such horrible things. "One of the ways to prevent the next war is to tell the stories of those that are currently being waged." But her talk consisted of far more than just a list of the wounded. Kelly did an impression of an impassioned and strongly accented Italian doctor she met in Afghanistan, expressed her deep admiration for the teenage peace movements being carried out in the Middle East, and even sang an old Irish ballad with an anti-war message.

She was not the only musical performer. Local musician and activist Ben Grosscup played 'Song for Basra,' by David Rovics. The audience was filled with locals involved in the peace scene, most notably Frances Crowe.

The talk was sponsored in part by Smith's Spirituality in Action. Kathy Kelly's particular brand of non-violence is indeed spiritually inspired. She developed a passion for peace during her upbringing in Chicago, where her Catholic school tutored her not only in Biblical values, but also in the values of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kathy Kelly's last words on Sunday, after urging her audience to become involved in the US peace movement, were an evocative metaphor for the violence in the Middle East: "There are two live wires crossing over there: hunger, and anger. And when they touch, there's an incandescent flash that can't be controlled. Those live wires exist in our lives too, but the hunger should be a hunger for justice and a hunger for peace. Maybe then we can turn that incandescent flash into something productive of forgiveness."