By Chris Hedges
Becket: It is not for me to win you round. I have only to say no to you.
King: But you must be logical, Becket!
Becket: No. That isn’t necessary, my liege. We must only do—absurdly—what we have been given to do—fight to the end.
—From the play “Becket,” by Jean Anouilh
January 02, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - The struggle against the monstrous radical evil that dominates our lives—an evil that is swiftly despoiling the earth and driving the human species toward extinction, stripping us of our most basic civil liberties and freedoms, waging endless war and solidifying the obscene wealth of an oligarchic elite at our expense—will be fought only with the belief that resistance, however futile, insignificant and even self-defeating it may appear, can set in motion moral and spiritual forces that radiate outward to inspire others, including those who come after us. It is, in essence, an act of faith. Nothing less than this faith will sustain us. We resist not because we will succeed, but because it is right. Resistance is the supreme act of faith.
During the Vietnam War, on the afternoon of May 17, 1968, nine Catholics, including two brothers, the radical priests Phil and Dan Berrigan, entered the draft board in Catonsville, Md., and seized Selective Service records. They carted them outside to the parking lot in metal trash cans and set them on fire with homemade napalm—the recipe was from the Special Forces Handbook of the U.S. Army. The men and women, many of whom were or had been members of Catholic religious orders, stood and prayed around the bonfire until they were arrested. They were protesting not only the war but, as Dan Berrigan wrote, “every major presumption underlying American life.” They acted, and eventually went to prison, Berrigan went on, “to set in motion spiritual rhythms whose outward influences are, in the nature of things, simply immeasurable.”
The group’s statement read:
Our apologies good friends
for the fracture of good order the burning of paper
instead of children the angering of the orderlies
in the front parlor of the charnel house
We could not so help us God do otherwise
For we are sick at heart
Our hearts give us no rest for thinking of the Land of Burning Children. …
We say: Killing is disorder
life and gentleness and community and unselfishness
is the only order we recognize. …
How long must the world’s resources
be raped in the service of legalized murder?
When at what point will you say no to this war?
We have chosen to say
with the gift of our liberty
if necessary our lives:
the violence stops here
the death stops here
the suppression of the truth stops here
this war stops here. …
The Catonsville protest sparked a wave of break-ins at draft boards in which files were burned, mutilated, stolen or destroyed. The Selective Service, in the first eight months of 1970 alone, recorded 271 “antidraft occurrences” at draft boards across the country.
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