A FESTIVAL OF PEACE!!
IRAQ and APPALACHIA : CONNECTING the DOTS
October 26 - 28, 2007
at Wheeling Jesuit University
As the colors of another lovely fall season once again testify, West Virginia is a land of great beauty and blessing. Come, let us gather together and celebrate it!
As we do, we bring with us a sense of sadness and of active discontent. In the interests of economic development and productivity, we human beings have often been cruel and disrespectful of our natural gifts and resources, indifferent to and destructive of the well being of the people who live here. Powerful ones among us have forgotten that "This Land is Home to Me"--this the title of an insightful reflection on the roots of powerlessness in Appalachia, first promulgated to the world from this campus in 1975. Thus are we finding ourselves no longer "At Home in the Web of Life," the title of a 1995 statement crying out for a policy of sustainability in dealing with the rich but often exploited products of this wondrous place.
Many of us will come to this Festival with heavy hearts over a war that purports to forward our national interests and share our democratic ways with people of backgrounds very different from our own. We are finding this costly military violence half a world away to be divisive, destructive and deadly, and strangely similar in its attitudes, tactics and results with what we have been experiencing in Appalachia.
And so we come with questions and frustrated convictions, with the need to be together and to speak to one another out of our particular passions and personal concerns , to express in music, art and reflective conversation our fundamental human values and deep-down longings, and hopefully to depart in a greater solidarity, with reaffirmed beliefs about a better way of living our lives and furthering our real, ringing-true interests, our basic national values and priorities.
The underlying theme for this Festival Of Peace is as you see: "Iraq and Appalachia: Connecting the Dots." Our working assumption is that the dynamic of corporate greed in unfortunately in control in both locations, as it is in so many others. We are looking yet again at major enterprises concentrated on profits to the detriment of places and people.
Again, welcome to the weekend! We come together as ordinary citizens, as public interest groups committed to concern about persons and environment, and, especially in this preelection year, as young people looking for their own answers. May we all interact at a variety of levels and in varied venues to draw our own conclusions, deepen our own understanding as we "connect the dots," and discover new possibilities for vision and change.
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