Randy Kehler, a long-time peace activist from Massachusetts who was jailed 22 months for refusing to serve during the Vietnam War, will discuss grassroots advocacy during a rescheduled lecture on Wednesday, April 14, at SUNY Cortland.
Kehler will present “The History, Philosophy and Practice of Active Nonviolence: A Personal Perspective” at 4:30 p.m. in Corey Union Exhibition Lounge. Organized by the Center for Ethics, Peace and Social Justice and the Philosophy Department, the talk is supported by the President’s Office and made possible by the Syracuse Peace Council, Kehler’s regional tour sponsors.
“Every time I see and hear people, especially younger people, express feelings of hopelessness and despair about the current state of the world, it strengthens my resolve to try, in whatever way I can, to introduce them to the fundamentally hopeful history and practice of ‘active nonviolence,’” Kehler said. “I wish to demonstrate that positive, nonviolent change in our lives and in the world is not only an urgent necessity but humanly possible.”
A frequent public speaker, Kehler has spent the past 40 years engaged in research, writing, organizing, and advocacy regarding a range of public policy issues, including energy and land reform, electoral democracy and nuclear disarmament. He co-founded the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, has been a war tax resister for decades, and has been involved in many interesting grassroots struggles in his rural home of western Massachusetts.
A graduate of Harvard College, Kehler spent 22 months in federal prison for his refusal to cooperate with the Vietnam draft. Former U.S. military analyst Daniel Ellsberg cites Kehler as one of those who inspired him to release The Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making about the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers in 1971.
Kehler, who lives in Colrain, Mass., also co-founded the Traprock Peace Center in Deerfield, Mass.; the Working Group on Electoral Democracy, a national organization; the Franklin County (Mass.) Community Development Corporation; and the Five Rivers Council in Franklin County, Mass.
As conscientious objectors to war, he and his wife, Betsy Corner, for many years have redirected their federal income tax payments to non-military needs such as food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless and relief for war victims including U.S. soldiers. Their war-tax refusal and the story of the Internal Revenue Service seizure of their home is the subject of an award-winning 1994 documentary film by Turning Tide Productions, titled “An Act of Conscience.”
For more information, contact Kathryn Russell, Philosophy Department, at (607) 753-2727.