concurrence of opinion
The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full
accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.”
an absence of emotion or enthusiasm
Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the
apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world.
marked by convention and accordance to customs or rules
Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of
conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world.
the act of protesting
And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm
dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history.
model of excellence or perfection of a kind
Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front
paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in the successful resolution of the problem.
arrived at without due care or effort; lacking depth
There is at the outset a very obvious and almost
facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America.
take away a vital or essential part of
Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and
eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war.
someone who supplies provisions, especially food
Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest
purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.
characterized by ardent emotion, intensity, or brilliance
Now it should be
incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war.
any system of principles or beliefs
Beyond the calling of race or nation or
creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood.
a group of officers who rule a country after seizing power
I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the
junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now.
failing to accomplish an intended result
For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their
abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.
suppress or crush completely
The peasants watched as all of this was presided over by United States influence and then by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help
quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused.
languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy.
a settlement smaller than a town
Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call “fortified
a state of forcible subjugation
What of the National Liberation front, that strangely anonymous group we call “VC” or “communists”? What must they think of the United States of America when they realize that we permitted the
repression and cruelty of Diem, which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the South?
excuse, overlook, or make allowances for
What do they think of our
condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms?
a tentative suggestion to elicit the reactions of others
Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese
overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made.
undermine or hinder normal operations
I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being
make oneself subject to
It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are
incurring deep psychological and political defeat.
release from entanglement or difficulty
I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do to begin the long and difficult process of
extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict...
involving only one part or side
Number two: Declare a
unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
place restrictions on
Three: Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by
curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
deviating from what is considered moral or right or proper
We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its
perverse ways in Vietnam.
guided by or in accordance with a sense of right and wrong
As we counsel young men concerning military service, we must clarify for them our nation’s role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of
a school you graduated from
I am pleased to say that this is a path now chosen by more than seventy students at my own
alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one.
any unwholesome or desperate condition
The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper
malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation.
a structure that has a roof and walls
It comes to see that an
edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
a feeling of righteous anger
indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.”
the most powerful members of a society
It will look at our alliance with the landed
gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.”
make compatible with
This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be
reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love.
stubbornly resistant to authority or control
There is nothing to keep us from molding a
recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.
an act that victimizes someone
All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of
exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born.
the feeling you have when you are satisfied with yourself
It is a sad fact that because of comfort,
complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch antirevolutionaries.
suggesting an unhealthy mental state
It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a
morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch antirevolutionaries.
the conventions embodying the fundamental values of a group
With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust
mores, and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.”
raise in rank, character, or status
With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be
exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.”
of worldwide scope or applicability
A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become
ecumenical rather than sectional.
a specially long, formal letter
This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first
epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another, for love is God. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love....If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.”
a difficult problem
In this unfolding
conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.
flow back or recede
The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood—it
impervious to pleas, persuasion, requests, or reason
We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is
adamant to every plea and rushes on.
have force or influence; bring about an effect or change
Will our message be that the forces of American life
militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets?
a state or condition being devastated or run-down
Once to every man and nation comes a moment do decide,
In the strife of truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah offering each the gloom or
And the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light.
a mournful poem; a lament for the dead
And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic
elegy into a creative psalm of peace.