Nobel Prize nominee to address peace activism

As the war in Afghanistan nears the 10 year mark,   America is on the minds of many and its role in a peaceful future.

Cindy Sheehan, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and national director of Peace of the Action, will be speaking at Butler University in early October on the topic of “The War Economy and You.”

“Sheehan’s tireless work as an anti-war peace activist is typical of the coming to critical consciousness of generations of women, and some men, in that they are radicalized around the tragedy of war,” Vivian Deno, director of the gender, women’s, and sexuality studies program, said.  The GWSS program is sponsoring Sheehan’s visit.

Sheehan was indeed radicalized by war.  After her son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004, she became an outspoken critic of the wars and the current establishment of the United States, which she calls a “military/corporate empire” on Peace of the Action’s website.

“It takes a lot of time, energy, resources, propaganda, money and human personnel to wage wars,” Sheehan wrote to The Butler Collegian in an email.  “The effort is a tremendous waste of these resources. On a practical level, these wars are draining our economy and draining our resources.”

As a private, mid-sized, Midwestern university, Butler appears to some as untouched by the violence against which Sheehan fights.  However, some students, faculty and staff said they are very much affected by the nation’s foreign policy.

“I definitely think that we forget about the seriousness of the war, probably because we’re very isolated here at Butler,” Megan Wood, a sophomore music education major, said.

Wood’s high school classmate from Spencer, Ind. died in Afghanistan in mid-September.  He was 19.

“To be honest, I had a lot of trouble understanding that he was really gone for a long time,” she said.  “That fact didn’t actually sink in completely until his body was finally home and I actually saw his casket. During the past two weeks, I’ve thought more about the war than I have in years.”

Sheehan also said that college education in the United States is expensive because of the government’s mismanagement of resources—a fact that she said she believes is causing many otherwise pacifist young women and men like her son to enlist.

Deno said she hopes that Sheehan’s experience and ideas will foster a “meaningful dialogue about the nature of war, our responsibility as citizens of the nation and the world for the wars we have waged and a frank discussion and evaluation of the costs to our nation and others for these wars.”

Sheehan’s rhetoric leans toward the incendiary, but she said she still believes world peace is possible.

“Yes, of course world peace is practically attainable,” she said “because the people of the world want peace.”

Sheehan will speak at 7 p.m. in the Johnson Room at Robertson Hall on Oct. 6.

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