Peace activists to be honored

Peace activists to be honored

By Stanley Campbell

Peace activists to be honored

Peace activists are not too popular in these times of terrorism and war, but they still come out of the woodwork, at least to light a candle of hope while everyone else is clamoring for revenge and stockpiling guns. Even in our own area, we have a few fine examples: Julia Hammer, a farmer’s wife and mother, in Polo, Ill. Julia was very active in the fight to freeze nuclear warhead production in the 1980s. Shortly after the Sept. 11th attacks, Julia organized regular meetings in Dixon, Ill. They held prayer services and seminars and educated themselves about lobbying Congress. Her biggest concern was the possibility of widening the war to the whole Muslim world. The Dixon-Polo area, Reagan’s hometown, is not a hotbed of liberal pacifists. But a combination of sincerity and dedication, as well as avoidance of left-wing rhetoric, has garnered some support.

A community college professor in the Sterling-Rock Falls area once visited Nicaragua during the Sandinista-Contra war. He dusted off his peace activist list and got folks together to study the Muslim faith and the root causes of Middle East terrorism. Fred says that if our country would only encourage Israel to stop building settlements in the occupied territories, “we might have a better chance of peace, at least in that war-torn country.”

There’s an activist in DeKalb who is so dedicated that things get done. Cole is known throughout the country for her persistence and level-headedness. She counters Army recruitment in the local high school with her own brand of peace education, and she got the school board to respect her rights!

From Belvidere to Beloit, and yes, even in Freeport, the old warriors for peace are again trying to prick the conscience of America and to hold back that awful animalistic urge to strike back.

Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world will be blind.” This is a message that has to be learned in the Midwest as well as in the halls of Washington. And it is heartening to find a few people who are willing to do it. It’s not just a ‘60s thing. Rockford Peace & Justice will honor these people, and more, this coming Monday, Dec. 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4848 Turner St. We hope to have a good group of area peace activists gathered. We will hear some of their stories, maybe get a few new ideas for organizing, celebrate the minor victories and pray for major peace.

Drew Leifheit, son of Rockford chef Mike Leifheit (Irish Rose), and international journalist, will talk about peace in eastern Europe. As a final treat, we will preview Paul Harvey Oswald’s latest video, Enough to Shake a Stick At, which will be for sale.

We invite you to bring your wishes and hopes for peace as well as your concerns about war to this last Coffee Talk of the year. And while you’re at it, why not bring some of your favorite holiday goodies?

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Minsitries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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