"Brothers and Sisters we, Daniel and Philip Berrigan, speak to you from prison, where we live, if you choose, prisoners of peace or hostages of war. That is to say, we have been imprisoned because we seriously favor peace and seriously oppose war, facts which make us expendable to the warmakers, liabilities they could not afford.
"More than that, we speak to you as prisoners, as men stripped of their rights a human beings, as Christians and as priests. We cannot speak freely, cannot write or publish, cannot reach those who need us and cannot meet people whose lives an political convictions are enmeshed with our own. We have no pulpit but the one you provide, no audience but you. And we enter further jeopardy even in speaking to you
"We are, in effect, men without a country for a duration of our sentences, exiles-at-home, whose citizenship has been suspended until the omnipresent state feels that punishment has sufficiently reeducated us to conformity, as most good citizens are conformists.
"Yet, as this message indicates, we insist upon free speech, insist upon a pulpit , insist upon even a congregation, since we drae to speak for prisoners everywhere, political or otherwise. Like, ourselves, they are voiceless, silenced, oppressed, treated as those who have no grasp upon human stature or dignity. Yet contrary to the courts that sentenced them and the society that ostracized them, we believe that from their ranks as God writes straight with crooked lines will come new perception and compassion, new experience and energy, to replace the tired and rigid mediocrity which condemned them.
"As we face you through these words, a critical question occupies us, a question public enough to occupy you as well. Why are we in jail, and why are there with us, Panthers and Chicanos, draft resisters and draft-file burners, plus poor men who have broken the law as an only way of asserting their right to exist? Because, we would suggest, we acted sanely in an insane society, because we felt the futility of peaceful words without peaceful deeds, because we rejected complicity with a culture and a power structure which idolizes power and privilege, and degrades human life.
"We are in jail, we insist, because we would neither remain silent nor possible because the pathology of naked power, which rules our country and dominates half the world, which shamelessly wastes resources as well as people, which leaves in its wake racism, poverty, foreign exploitation, and war. In face of this we felt, free men cannot remain free and silent, free men cannot confess their powerlessness by doing nothing.
"We spoke out, committed civil disobedience, and went to jail because the peace hangs senselessly and precariously upon weapons costing billions to build and billions to improve weapons which become more useless as we add to their destructive force. With this money we could have fed the world's people. Half the children on earth go to bed hungry millions more have retarding and stunting protein deficiencies. Instead of building the peace by attacking injustices like starvation, disease, illiteracy, political and economic servitude, we spend a trillion dollars on war since 1946, until hatred and conflict have become the international preoccupation. Indeed, following our quality of leadership, 70 percent of the nations are either at war, or preparing seriously for war.
"To remain prosperous, America defaces its countryside, fouls its air and water, makes its cities unlivable, and, as ultimate irony, pollutes its oceans with surplus safety, ten thousand bombs of obsolete nerve gas in thin and vulnerable containers.
"Our institutions and the rule governing them no longer promote the best interests of anyone, including those who keep them stagnant for personal gain. Churches and synagogues fear the Scriptures, and fear living them; universities undertake war-related research, even as they refuse to lead the young; business puts profit over human life and welfare, while legislatures are filled with those who, for the most part, are vote-getters, rather than critics of war policy and servants of human welfare.
"America fights a stupid and genocidal war in Indochina, mostly because we don't know how to turn off the bloody spigot we have opened. That is to say, we are powerless to inquire why it is easier to continue to slaughter than to stop it, why the historical cult of violence has become the mainstay of policy both foreign and domestic, or why our economy so requires warmaking that perpetual war has united with expanding profits as the chief national purpose.
"In face of such bewilderment, which has seized and taken captive our national sanity, the government remains impotent. First, because government is a coalition of big business, big finance, and big military, whose rapacity has become policy. And secondly, because the silent middle class, threatened from below by the poor, and form above by the rich and their government, is morally absorbed, immobilized. Only some students, Blacks, a cross section of the poor, and a few radical Christian trouble the government by questioning the ruling class, and by attempting to hold it accountable. In response, the government is powerless to redress, powerless in fact to do other than remain deaf to their concerns, their sacrifices, even their deaths. It can only ridicule them, silence them in jail, or crush them.
"We greet you at a time roughly coinciding with Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and the Christian feast of St. Francis. During these days, Jews fast for a day, review the ninety-nine sins, and humbly promise a life renewed by service of their brothers. Christians look to the Little Brother of Assisi, who reverenced all life, desiring only to sow love where there was hate. Both traditions shed light upon our predicament. Peacemaking has now become more than moral and political duty it is a condition for human survival.
"Yet contemporary peacemaking must go far beyond acknowledgment of failure to one's God and one's community, as the High Holy days require; or the personal love that Francis lived. It must resist the powers of this world, the institutions of domination and their chieftains, whose wealth and position give them control over the resources of the world and the lives and deaths of human beings.
"What we plead for, what we are attempting to live, is the truth of hope, which asserts that men & women have been made new by Christ, that they can use freedom responsibly, that they can build world uncursed by war, starvation, and exploitation. Such hope, once created and defended, leads inevitably to nonviolent revolution.
"A hard question arises when does opposition to unjust law become the measure of a human, and therefore moral, and political duty? It seems to us that the time for resistance has come, as surely as your lives and ours have been threatened by senseless obedience to senseless laws. It seems to us that communities must control Selective Service (by putting them out of business); they must encourage and harbor military deserters; they must refuse taxes that are war-related; they must withdraw from war industry and war profiteering. They must even think of destroying war ordinance and horror weapons, taking every precaution in so doing, to protect human life. Finally, they must strive to bring the business of this nation to a halt, since nothing educates the mandarins like seeing their profits jeopardized. In a word, one must build the peace by first striking at the causes of war and rendering them powerless.
"Peacemaking is hard, hard almost as war.' It seems to us that, when we understand how hard war is, we understand the obligation to make peace. There will be no moral equivalent of war until we engage the price of war technological terror, scorched earth, millions of dead Indochinese, young American lives snuffed out, a ruined society in Southeast Asia, untold billions of treasure wasted sorrow, despair, desperation, rage. If we understand modern war, we understand the effort that peace requires. And we settle for nothing but total peace.
We choose peace, not in rhetoric alone, but in truth, love, in risk, suffering, in every element of our lives. Even of that meant loss of possession, public disgrace, prison, death. To lose that others might gain, to be imprisoned that others might be free, to die that others might live, this is the stuff of life, this is humanity in its fullest glory."