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'Either We Destroy War or It Will Destroy Us': Happy Birthday, Philip Berrigan


'Either We Destroy War or It Will Destroy Us': Happy Birthday, Philip Berrigan

Jake Johnson

In 1997, at the age of 73, Philip Berrigan, accompanied by five others, arrived at the shipyard of Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. It was early — just past four in the morning — and there was much work to do.

Berrigan had, by this point, long been a prominent figure within America's anti-war movement, which peaked in the midst of the Vietnam War. His actions, along with those of his brother, Daniel, also a Catholic priest and a prominent activist, helped spark intense but nonviolent protests throughout the nation in opposition to the American government's crimes overseas.


Price wants us to go to war with Russia.
Kaine will stupidly back us into a war with Russia.
Trump will go to war with Russia immediately after going to war with Iran. He's locked and loaded.
Hillary will go to war with Russia unless she jettisons the neocon faction of the Democratic Party from our government.
The old "Scoop" Jackson faction which is still quite active and who Hillary generally sides with.

The neocon faction of the Democratic Party likes and pursues war because they are lobbyists for the Military Industrial Complex.


I was still a kid in the sixties, but I knew who and what the Berrigans were doing. They were held up in my family as examples of true patriots. I was blessed with a mother possessed by deep compassion, an abiding faith in the Golden Rule, recognized and passed on the power of questioning authority. (She paid for that last one during my rebellious teens!)


You bastard! How dare you give the person who gave you life a ration of crap!
Are you well now?


I believe I am. I've grown into a damn fine rebel! My mother would be proud.


Ah but Philip, if there is any "theater of the absurd", it is the war mongers and weapons manufacturers that possess such a very limited and dark vision for our world.

I salute your life as a model for sanity and compassion.


Aye, there's the rub, to quote the Bard.


The means to 'Destroy War' self evidently does not exist by any existing, conventional political process, Democratic or otherwise. Those who think otherwise need read no further. But with that position for a starting point, what else is there? Yet for individuals prepared to think for themselves, with the intellectual integrity to shake off their existing prejudices, who will explore outside the cultural box of history and able to stand against the tides of tribal, peer, group think, and all fashionable thought and spin, with the humility to accept correction and the moral courage to learn something new, who will TEST, discover and confirm this new insight for themselves, an intellectual and moral revolution is under way; where the once impossible becomes inevitable, by the most potent, political, progressive, Non Violent Direct Action never imagined. One able to advance peace, justice, change and progress and which the modern corporate/national security state can neither stop nor interfere with.



President Kennedy's Inaugural Address ("Mankind must make an end to war before war makes an end to Mankind") to the UN 18th Assembly on the recent death of Sec. General Dag Hammarskjold. Some of his 'advisers' wanted him to ditch his quest for peace, but being the man he was, he ignored them. Speaking of UN Secretaries General, lets hope that Gutteries has the guts of a Hammarskjold - who in all likelihodd, was assassinated by (Guess Who?) not long after the assassination of Congo's PM Patrice Lumumba. History is full of such quirky little twists. CIA man Frank Carlucci, after his exploits in Africa, was appointed US ambassador to Portugal....

I do wish more people would read Jams Douglass "JFK & The Unspeakable. Why he died & Why it matters" so that they can understand where people like the Berrigans, Ben Salmon. Dorothy Day, JFK, MLK, RFK all were the greatest of Americans, mostly destroyed by the Unspeakable, who go stronger as US Democracy grows ever weaker...


Maybe if we couch it in terms of a 'War on War' we could some traction....


Thank you, Jake, for reminding me of Phillip's final words of wisdom (informed by a life well and fully lived). As I look at this photo of friends/colleagues in the struggle for a better world for future generations, I smile as I think of the how Phil and Dan Berrigan continue to inform us all. As for war and nuclear weapons, it is true that we must "destroy" them or they will, indeed, destroy us.


I read it and am going to read it again- One damn fine book...


Along with "JFK and the Unspeakable," another fine book on the subject of peace in the world is Michael Nagler's "The Search for a Nonviolent Future."

Nagler is a professor emeritus at UCal Berkeley, where he founded and still teaches in the Peace and Conflict Studies Program.

A fine tribute to the peace work of Philip Berrigan, Jake Johnson.


War, pandemics, crime, infanticide, depredation, natural disasters and other natural forms of overpopulation controls have always existed because humans haven't learned how to deal with our own overpopulation by painless and peaceful ways. Or even acknowledge that there is such a problem, though ecologists and wildlife managers know it is common to all species.


Thanks, Bill for the heads-up on Michael Nagler. I wonder if he or you has heard of New Zealand's peace prophet Te Whiti and the Parihaka Movement you literally used plot shares and were slaughtered by muskets. This movement began just before Gandhi was born in 1869. The non-violent opposition of indigenous people to the taking of their land reminds me of the current stand off at the Dakota pipeline. It's a tough challenge to turn the other cheek. Have you heard of Ben Salmon? I also treasure JFK's note on wars continuing until that distant day when the Conscientious Objector is revered as the warrior is today. I understand that warriors are on pedestals in the US whilst U.K. Politicians like Blair and May want exemption from Human Rights obligations.


Not much to choose between them. Jill Stein is shut out of our system but she gets my vote. In good conscience I cannot vote for any candidate who does not make peace a priority. And I am not talking about 'winning a war' to obtain peace. Retreat to our own boundaries and stop putting 'American interests' above all other considerations, like the lives of those caught up in our wars.


Happy (conception and) birthday, Phil. And thanks for your reception of me and my personal and slightly different perspectives before, during, and after "The Baltimore Four" of Friday, 10-27-1967 You were a strong and beautiful gift to my struggling and painful path before we met in 1967. Why did you not tell me before acting with "The Catonsville Nine" in 1968--I was shocked (but pleased) when I first heard of it on the radio. Also, I'm regretting now that the scriptures and sacred music were not given a greater part of media attention in both of the actions above. Anyway, the above history can instruct all of us for future actions. Actions? Yes, and concerts and events to remember the past and cleanse the future. With modern social media, a non-violent path is possible--including an end to war and even domestic violence, indeed. I truly believe this is possible and practical. Militarism and all violence are "dinosaurs" and counter productive to gaining peace. Liz McAlister was a great gift to you--and Norma Swingle is to me. See our 10-minute video at (Google): And remember, PEACE is imminent!:slight_smile:


See Norma (Swingle) Mengel and me at (Google): LoveBirdsDelivering. PEACE to you and all living beings!