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Lay Down My Sword and Shield


This course will help participants clarify their views about participating in, paying for or in any way tolerating warfare. The teacher, Kathy Kelly, is mainly familiar with wars waged by the U.S., having lived alongside people trapped by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Four of the course participants are young Afghans who welcomed delegations of internationals to visit with them during the past decade. We have much to learn from them.

There is also much to learn from people still trapped in war zones or seeking refuge from wars. Articles, interviews, films, art, literature and data will be presented about ongoing war against Yemen.

By laying aside the futility of war, and thereby dismantling militarism, we can then rationally discuss solving the very real terrors we face, particularly the terrors of what we are doing to our own environment.

Participants will be encouraged to develop written reflections which can be useful as eventual letters to the editor, op-eds, homilies, and correspondence directed to elected officials, CEOs of weapon making companies, and various community leaders who should be working to end all wars. Through conversations with one another, participants will ideally build individual and collective skills enabling us, week by week, to speak truthfully about the costs of war and the price of peace.


Email: [email protected]    Kathy Kelly


Kathy Kelly is a peace activist whose efforts have led her, at times, into war zones and U.S. prisons. She lived in Iraq throughout the initial weeks of two U.S. wars against Iraq: Operation Desert Storm (1991) and the Shock and Awe bombing and invasion (2003). She and her companions in Voices in the Wilderness organized 70 delegations to Iraq, all in open and public defiance of the economic sanctions against Iraq. With Voices for Creative Nonviolence, she was able to visit Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul on 30 separate occasions from 2010 – 2019. She developed an earlier version of this course while serving a three month prison sentence for having attempted to deliver a loaf of bread to the commander of a U.S. military base operating weaponized drones over Afghanistan. She particularly appreciates opportunities to visit with secondary school and University students, and will try to communicate, throughout the course, what she has been learning from younger activists. 




8 weeks of titles


Week One:


Waging War Against Children

--What can we learn from studying Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting, “The Slaughter of Innocents” and how can we communicate about this?

--What can we learn from villagers whose children were killed by U.S. bombs?

Reports from Al Ghayyal, Yemen, from Qana, Lebanon, and from Ameriyah in Iraq

--Should children be held accountable for the actions of a government? Why were effects of economic sanctions shrouded in secrecy?  




Week Two:


Who Are the Terrorists? 


A case study of Irish activists who destroyed computers and other equipment at a Raytheon factory in Derry, Northern Ireland and were acquitted of all charges by pleading the necessity defense after having visited a Lebanese family whose loved ones were killed by a Raytheon manufactured bomb.


Reading and discussion of Jeffrey E. Stern’s New York Times Magazine cover story, “From Arizona to Yemen, the Journey of an American Bomb” 


Reflection on a U.S. drone attack against pine nut laborers in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province




Week Three:


Who Are the War Profiteers?


Statements from military contractors: Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin


Examining “the revolving door” between military contractors offices, lobbying offices, and governmental positions





Week Four:

Swords Into Plowshares



What are Plowshares actions?

Mr. Nix’s wisdom

Kings Bay 7 Plowshares


Following Steve Kelly, SJ and his co-defendants





Week Five:


Education, Education, Education…an indispensable step


Presenting drafts of our written and spoken education and outreach efforts

Helping each other finalize and use these materials as effectively as possible, e.g., through publishing op-eds, letters to the editor, and sending letters to elected officials, etc.


Week Six:


Can Reparations be made?


Examining military budgets


What was the cost of keeping one soldier, for one year, in Afghanistan?


Imagining alternatives  




Week Seven:


Listen to Earth, Abolish War

Learning from the film "Scarred Lands & Wounded Lives"

Environmental activism  

Literally planting seeds

Learning from Lisa Savage and the Maine Natural Guard


Week Eight:


Locked in Winter, Summer Lies, Gather Your Bones Together, Rise.


Participating in actions, developing future actions, and creating relationships with kindred spirits dedicated toward ending wars.




A note about Zoom Sessions

I look forward to welcoming course participants to a weekly Zoom session. Hopefully, we can also include four participants whom I first met in Afghanistan, two of whom are now in Kabul, Afghanistan as well as one young friend in Ulaan-Bator, Mongolia and two others in Kerala, India.  Given the vast difference in time between Afghanistan, India, Mongolia and the U.S., I’m hoping Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. Central Standard Time will be workable. So unless we make a change, each Saturday I will send a reminder, and in the curriculum, each week, there will be a recurring notice of the sessions.

And, about the sessions... These are meant to be quite relaxed and open. I expect they will generally last one to two hours. Obviously people can come and go as they are able and prefer. I will "host" and try to keep things moving and participatory. The sessions will start by considering the course lectures - any questions, confusions, or explorations folks wish to bring up are welcome. I’ll look forward to improving the course through hearing your input.

I do hope to see you in the Zoom gatherings.

Here is the schedule and link...

 Kathy Kelly is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.


Topic: Lay Down My Sword and Shield

Time: Jul 3, 2021 10:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

    Every week on Sat, until Aug 14, 2021, 7 occurrence(s)

    Jul 3, 2021 10:00 AM

    Jul 10, 2021 10:00 AM

    Jul 17, 2021 10:00 AM

    Jul 24, 2021 10:00 AM

    Jul 31, 2021 10:00 AM

    Aug 7, 2021 10:00 AM

    Aug 14, 2021 10:00 AM

Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.

Weekly: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/tZcpdu6orjkiHdRkCqDHU_pCKyN3k0ots_Cm/ics?icsToken=98tyKuGrqjotGtSXuB6HRpwqBoj4KPTziHpHgqdvlzz0JwhmXRPVHftsYbkvH8zD


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Meeting ID: 834 1700 2870

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