SALISBURY, MD---One of the historic political figures of the 20th century, Lech Walesa, speaks on “Democracy: The Never-Ending Battle” 7 p.m. Thursday, March 30, in Maggs Gymnasium at Salisbury University.
A part of the Center for Conflict Resolution’s One Person Can Make a Difference Lecture Series, Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa epitomizes the theme of the series perfectly. In 1980, Walesa led the 10 million-member Solidarity Labor Movement that inspired fear in the hearts of communist leadership and hope in the hearts of those starved for freedom. Despite the crackdown of martial law and repeated imprisonment, Walesa, who enjoyed the support of Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Church, prevailed to see the end of communist rule in Poland and Eastern Europe.
For his heroic efforts, Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. He received praise from leaders worldwide for his honor, including these words from President Ronald Reagan: “It’s a victory for those who seek to enlarge the human spirit over those who seek to crush it.”
In 1989 Walesa became only the third international leader in history—after the Marquis de Lafayette and Sir Winston Churchill—to address a join session of the U.S. Congress.
In 1990 he was elected president of Poland. His term in office set Poland firmly on the path of becoming a free market democracy, enabling Poland to receive one of the first invitations to join an expanded NATO.
Walesa was unable to travel to Oslo to receive the Peace Prize but his remarks were read for him. In them he expressed his belief in his homeland, its people and the supremacy of peace based upon justice.
Historically, Poland had been repeatedly invaded and forced to succumb to brutal force. Walesa wrote, “Our national history has so often filled us with bitterness and the feeling of helplessness. … When I recall my own path of life I cannot but speak of the violence, hatred and lies. A lesson drawn from such experiences, however, was that we can effectively oppose violence only if we ourselves do not resort to it. …
“During the 15 months of Solidarity’s legal existence nobody was killed or wounded as a result of its activities. … The defense of our rights and our dignity, as well as efforts never to let ourselves to be overcome by the feeling of hatred—that is the road we have chosen. …
“It is my cherished desire that peace be not separated from freedom which is the right of every nation. … And we must remember that only peace built on the foundations of justice and moral order can be a lasting one.
“The two (peace and justice) are like bread and salt for mankind.”
The Nobel Prize winner now heads the Lech Walesa Institute whose aim is to champion democracy and free market reform in Eastern Europe and throughout the developing world.
His visit to Salisbury is part of the University’s 80th anniversary celebration and commemorates the life of Charles R. Fulton, who with his wife, Martha, founded the Fulton School of Liberal Arts.
Walesa’s talk is made possible by a generous grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore and SU’s Center for Conflict Resolution, Charles R. and Martha N. Fulton School of Liberal Arts, Office of Cultural Affairs, Student Government Association, Office of the Provost and Center for International Education.
“I am also grateful for the support given to the Center for Conflict Resolution and the Walesa visit by Mitzi Perdue,” said Brian Polkinghorn, executive director of the Center for Conflict Resolution. Admission is free but tickets are required. They are available on a first come, first served basis at the Guerrieri University Center Information Desk. Tickets are limited to two per person. For more information call the SU Office of Cultural Affairs at 410-219-2872 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu. "