"1) Call on Jesus when all else fails. Call on Him when all else succeeds (except that never happens).
"2) Don't be afraid to be afraid or appalled to be appalled. How do you think the trees feel these days, or the whales, or, for that matter, most humans?
"3) Keep your soul to yourself. Soul is a possession worth paying for, they're growing rarer. Learn from monks, they have secrets worth knowing.
"4) About practically everything in the world, there's nothing you can do. This is Socratic wisdom. However, about of few things you can do something. Do it, with a good heart.
"5) On a long drive, there's bound to be a dull stretch or two. Don't go anywhere with someone who expects you to be interesting all the time. And don't be hard on your fellow travelers. Try to smile after a coffee stop.
"6) Practically no one has the stomach to love you, if you don't love yourself. They just endure. So do you.
"7) About healing: The gospels tell us that this was Jesus' specialty and he was heard to say: "Take up your couch and walk!"
"8) When traveling on an airplane, watch the movie, but don't use the earphones. Then you'll be able to see what's going on, but not understand what's happening, and so you'll feel right at home, little different then you do on the ground.
"9) Know that sometimes the only writing material you have is your own blood.
"10) Start with the impossible. Proceed calmly towards the improbable. No worry, there are at least five exits."
— Ten Commandments for the Long Haul
Sponsors of War
"The sponsors of war closely resemble the weapons they create. And smart bombs, depleted uranium, land mines, rockets and tanks, rather than protect 'widows and orphans and strangers at the gate,' are designed precisely to create 'widows and orphans,' to transform strangers into enemies and enemies into corpses."
— Lamentations: From New York to Kabul and Beyond
Christians in a Warmaking State
Peacemaking is hard
hard almost as war
the difference being one
we can stake life upon
and limb and thought and love.
I stake this poem out
dead man to a dead stick
to tempt an Easter chance —
if faith my be
truth, our evil chance
penultimate at last.
not last. We are not lost.
When these lines gathered
of no resource at all
serenity and strength,
it dawned on me —
a man stood on his nails
as ash like dew, a sweat
smelling of death and life.
Our evil Friday fled,
the blind face gently turned
another way, toward life
a man walks in his shroud.
— Testimony: The Word Made Flesh
Protesting the Pathology of Naked Power
"We are in jail, we insist, because we would neither remain silent nor possible because of 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."
— America Is Hard to Find: Notes from the Underground and Letters from Danbury Prison
Paying the Price of Peace
"Certainly the trouble is not that we do not want peace. We have seen enough war, we are sick of it, unto death. The war has come home like a stalking corpse, tailing its blood, its tears, its losses, its despairs — seeking like an American ghost the soul of America. We want the peace; but most of us do not want to pay the price of peace. We still dream of a peace that has no cost attached. We want peace, but we live content with poverty and injustice and racism, with the murder of prisoners and students, the despair of the poor to whom justice is endlessly denied. We long for peace, but we wish also to keep undisturbed a social fabric of privilege and power that controls the economic misery of two thirds of the world's people.
"Obviously there will be no genuine peace while such an inherently violent scheme of things continues. America will in time extricate herself from the bloody swamps, the ruined villages, the mutilated dead of Vietnam. But nothing will be settled there, nothing mitigated at home. Nothing changed, that is, until a change of heart leads us to a change of social structures in every area of our lives."
— Lights on In the House of the Dead
A No Spoken With the Heart's Full Energies
"Everything begins with that no, spoken with the heart's full energies, a suffering and prophetic word, a word issuing from the nature and direction of things. No. A time to tear and pull down and root out. A time for burning out the accumulated debris of history, the dark noisome corners of our shrines, a universal spring-cleaning. So that the symbolism of Catonsville may become a permanent method and symbol. Of what?
"Of moral process. Not of escalated ethical improvement, or social engineering of American dreams, or exportation of techniques. We have had enough of that; we must speak of something other, closer to the dark roots of our existence, to beginnings, to the heart of things.
"The Bible has many powerful images to bring reality to our shocked attention once more. Exodus, metanoia, conversion, a new way for man. The mysterious, stormy, jealous, destructive, heartbreaking Other keeps propping the rotten fabric of human invention and arrangement. He will not indefinitely allow man the sweet slavery into which he sinks like a flaccid complaisant lover. No, every slavery is an invitation to another exodus; every exodus is guided by a dark promise."
— The Dark Night of Resistance