Cross posted at European Tribune

This evening’s theme: Path to Peace: Ethical Responsibilities in a Global Consumer

After hearing Kathy Kelly this Friday evening I have added her to my short list, well very short list, <10, of super-great speakers I’ve heard over a lifetime. Should you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend.

Disclosure:All of this from memory alone… it’s not a verbatim transcript… any mistakes are mine.

Kathy Kelly, a co-coordinator with Voices in the Wilderness (VitW), spoke in Fargo, ND at Presentation Sisters Convent. Since 2003 Presentation Peace Studies has been a project of the sisters.

In 1988 Kathy Kelly  was sentenced to one year in prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites. Kelly served nine months of the sentence in Lexington KY maximum security prison.

In the spring of 2004, she served three months at Pekin federal prison for crossing the line as part of an ongoing effort to close an army military combat training school at Fort Benning, GA.

This evening, Kathy Kelly started out by explaining “… nuns give no visible sign of a desire to accumulate personal wealth.” She believes  Pacifism… has to do with living simply, with reverence… (for life)

The only other group of women living together without wealth as we enter 2006 is the concentration of women in US prisons. Currently one fourth of the world’s prisoners are in US prisons.

While in prison, due to her bunk location Kathy overheard numerous phone calls from women in prison.

Most still care about their families. They keep trying to talk with family members at home but are not usually successful.

[… discussed supply needs of prisoners ]

82% of the women are in for non-violent crime, one fourth are sentenced to more than 8 years. The men’s facility was designed for 800, it now has 1153, so the men are overcrowded. Their median sentence was 27 years.

If military might(as seen in the Iraq war) is right then why aren’t we seeing a better life for our people. (The latest projected estimates of…) the cost of the Iraq war is 2 Trillion… who is working on preventing a crash landing…

[…discussed end of oil, use of solar, wind.]

I’ve been to Iraq 26 times. I was in _?__ city with the Iraq Peace Team when the 2003 war commenced. As local authorities left the city looters were working their way towards that part of the city. The US Marines arrived before the looters, which I was thankful for.

We (Peace Team members) brought water and dates to the troups. So we all had a picnic… I went to visit with a marine who was sitting on the top of his tank reading a book. I said, What are you reading? He replies, Heart of Darkness, for the thirteen time.

The marines were curious, and said,”Tell us your side of the story.” Many of the marines hoped to come back to Iraq to help with the reconstruction.

More after the fold;


Over the Christmas holidays the IMF decided Iraq had to pay back their debt that was incurred under Saddam Hussein. We ought to exchange our policy of “starve, bomb, occupy, threaten, force, and military power to a policy of fair play, a fair price for resources, and convert (internal) Iraq production to building a better life there.

Kathy feels the problem in the US is that,

… people have been coached to be in fear. I was in New York on 9-11. 9-11 was war.

[And with respect to the video issued by Osama bin Laden]… our adversary issued a video…  Bush and Kerry did not want to know… what Osama bin Laden’s issues were…  

  1. Foreign bases in Muslim lands…
  2. Stop the occupying Muslim lands…
  3. Don’t take a people’s resources and leave them with nothing to build their society…
  4. [Kathy referred to our founding fathers as desiring similar corrections to the British behavior.]

Kathy revealed another definition of the pottery barn principle,

…if you break it you go in the back and pay up, then get out of there before you break anything else… After the IMF move, a gallon of gasoline went from 6 cents, to 47 cents. I think we should pay reparations to Iraq… and get out now. We’ve got to stop creating more terrorists.

With the dollars we’ve sent to Israel they’ve constructed 200-400 thermo nuclear weapons. Iran has both oil and natural gas. (With regards to negotiation possibilities…) the US has not offered Iran anything worth bargaining for…

(When asked about Vietnam,) Dr Martin Luther King had said his message included all of the world’s poor.

The Peace Team organized the city’s shoe shine boys to sing the 2nd and 3rd verses of “We shall overcome…” in Arabic. We thought they’d better skip the first verse so as not to antagonize Saddam?


From the Q&A session:

We’ve been robbing or looting oil… it’s a finite set, now China needs more oil as their population booms…

We have a problem solving tradition in our country… it has to be we and us vs. the corporate media. We should not expect just a few “stars” to do everything; we should all contribute as much as we can…

We should look for sympathetic people in our communities, converse with them over coffee, see if we can’t get some more people to meetings, so they can be informed, and some of them will become activists, then a critical mass of activists will educate people…


I do not collaborate with the US government… what does the government want from us? Dollars. I have not paid taxes since 1979.

[Note to NSA: The author of this diary does not advocate not-paying-taxes, but encourages all individuals to consult proper legal, financial, and spiritual advisors, to name only a few, prior to making financial decisions.]

The most expensive piece of property she owns are her contact lens. If you don’t pay taxes you can’t own anything.

We don’t have an official draft, but we do have a poverty draft.

We need to look in the mirror and see ourselves as a society…how can we live more simply, to use fewer resources, so the [crunch] down the road won’t be so severe.

I planted Native American corn on a nuclear missile silo site, sat and waited to be arrested. The soldier stood behind me, guarding me with his rifle, after I was handcuffed. Since I’m so outgoing I have to talk, so asked him, Do you think the corn will grow? He says, I sure hope so ma’am. Many times you get these unexpected moments with people.

I’m hoping the next generation of college students will make an effort at rescuing our society… hopefully it’s not already too late.


We should be ready as a people to negotiate changes in our lifestyles… wind, solar energy… and not allow our inconvenience to inhibit us from doing that.

The people who run the criminal justice system earn 30-40 times more than the average worker… prisons use a racist approach. At Pekin the Mary Todd unit (Kathy’s unit) we got cleaning supplies, toilet supplies, [etc,] while other units’ supplies were taken off site by prison workers. The men’s facility at Pekin runs 3 shifts, making light bulb fixtures, (the old fashioned ones) with the pull string, which they sell to the US military for $ 37.00 each.

Guess who are the only ones who can buy shares in the federal prison stock? Only the members of AFGE, [American Federation of Government Employees]the federal workers union, that includes representatives and senators and their staff.

The criminal justice system has become a slave labor [manufacturing situation.]

…with corporate control over government there is a danger of fascism. Some of us now must take risks so that others in the future don’t have to.

Kathy Kelly is one amazing woman folks! And no doubt Voices in the Wilderness (VitW) could use some love.

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