Prelude (on CD):
[A sad, gentle song of protest against American escalation of the war in Vietnam by Canadian folk singer, Joni Mitchell,
from her second album, Clouds, April 1969]
And so once again
My dear Johnny, my dear friend
And so once again you are fightin' us all
And when I ask you why
You raise your sticks and cry, and I fall
Oh, my friend
How did you come
To trade the fiddle for the drum
You say I have turned
Like the enemies you've earned
But I can remember
All the good things you are
And so I ask you please
Can I help you find the peace and the star
Oh, my friend
What time is this
To trade the handshake for the fist
And so once again
Oh, America my friend
And so once again
You are fighting us all
And when we ask you why
You raise your sticks and cry  and we fall
Oh, my friend
How did you come
To trade the fiddle for the drum
You say we have turned
Like the enemies you've earned
But we can remember
All the good thingt you are
And so we ask you please
Can we help you find the peace and the star
Oh my friend
We have all come
To fear the beating of your drum
Chalice lighting

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that."

The Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr
Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community
©1967, page 62 [reading from Beacon Press paperback edition]

Blowin' In the Wind by Bob Dylan, from the Prairie Song Book,
followed by the following readings and taped excerpts:

Explanation of program format.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists and winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize
for his efforts to achieve social change through nonviolent protest.
In his introduction to Martin Luther King Jr's Nobel Peace Prize address, the Dalai Lama, winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, said:
.... Despite their quite different backgrounds, Dr. King has joined Mahatma Gandhi as a continuing beacon of inspiration to further peaceful revolutions in recent years that, in turn, offer future generations a wonderful example of successful, nonviolent change. What both these great men affirmed is that the desire for both peace and freedom lies at the most fundamental level of human nature and that violence is its complete antithesis. ....

10 DECEMBER 1964

.... Sooner or later, all the peoples of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

... I accept this award in the spirit of a curator of some precious heirloom which he holds in trust for its true owners: all those to whom truth is beauty, and beauty, truth, and in whose eyes the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold. Thank you.

The Casualties of the War in Vietnam
Delivered in Los Angeles
25 February 1967
From the Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project at Stanford University
In an address titled The Casualties of the War in Vietnam, to The National Institute in Los Angeles, on February 25, 1967, Dr. King said:
.... In these days ... there is no greater need than for sober-thinking, healthy debate, creative dissent and enlightened discussion. ....

I would like to speak to you candidly ... about our present involvement in Viet Nam. .... We are all aware of the nightmarish physical casualties. ....

But the physical casualties of the war in Viet Nam are not alone the catastrophes. The casualties of principles and values are equally disastrous and injurious. Indeed, they are ultimately more harmful because they are self-perpetuating. If the casualties of principle are not healed, the physical casualties will continue to mount.

One of the first casualties of the war in Viet Nam was the Charter of the United Nations. ....

It is very obvious that our government blatantly violated its obligation under the charter of the United Nations to submit to the Security Council its charge of aggression against North Viet Nam. ....

The second casualty of the war in Viet Nam is the principle of self-determination. .... our participation in the war in Viet Nam is an ominous expression of our lack of sympathy for the oppressed, ... our failure to feel the ache and anguish of the have nots.
Today we are fighting an all-out war--undeclared by Congress. .... American planes are bombing the territory of another country, and we are committing atrocities equal to any perpetrated by the Vietcong. ....

A third casualty of the war in Viet Nam is the Great Society. ... the promises of the Great Society have been shot down on the battlefield of Viet Nam. The pursuit of this widened war has narrowed domestic welfare programs, making the poor ... bear the heaviest burdens both at the front and at home.

It is estimated that we spend $322,000 for each enemy we kill, while we spend in the so-called war on poverty in America only about $53.00 for each person classified as "poor". And much of that 53 dollars goes for salaries of people who are not poor. ....

We are isolated in our false values in a world demanding social and economic justice. We must undergo a vigorous re-ordering of our national priorities.


A fourth casualty of the war in Viet Nam is the humility of our nation. ... our power has ... made us arrogant. We feel that our money can do anything. We arrogantly feel that we have everything to teach other nations and nothing to learn from them.


A fifth casualty of the war in Viet Nam is the principle of dissent. An ugly repressive sentiment to silence peace-seekers depicts advocates of immediate negotiation ... and ... a cessation of bombings ... as quasi-traitors, .... Free speech and the privilege of dissent and discussion are rights being shot down by Bombers in Viet Nam. ....


A sixth casualty of the war in Viet Nam is the prospects of mankind's survival. This war has created the climate for greater armament and further expansion of destructive nuclear power.


The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows. One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. ....


Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Viet Nam because I love America. .... I am disappointed with our failure to deal positively and forthrightly with the triple evils of racism, extreme materialism and militarism. ....

Excerpts from Introduction by Ambassador George McGovern to
Beyond Vietnam
in A Call To Conscience, © 2001
refer to
in dis-
Perhaps the only issue of the 1960s whose passion rivaled that of the Civil Rights Movement was the ongoing conflict in Vietnam. From the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies, the Vietnam War became the transcendent issue in American politics, and when it combined with the Civil Rights Movement, that decade--from 1965 to 1975--became as divisive as any that had gripped the nation since the Civil War.
Many Americans, especially the young, ... saw the war as a contradiction of American ideals of self-determination, justice, and decency. The disproportionate percentage of black youth called to fight in Vietnam was an obvious gross injustice in this war that had not characterized earlier U.S. wars.

The deepening involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War presented a difficult challenge for Martin Luther King. In the early stages of the war, he and his advisors took the position that the civil rights crisis in American society was so compelling, and Dr. King so uniquely endowed to lead the Civil Rights Movement, that he should not permit his energy and leadership to be diverted by the war.

From 1965 on, a growing number of prominent senators were challenging the U.S. military engagement in the ... war. Students, faculty members, clergymen, and some business, professional, and labor members were engaging in teach-ins, protest movements, and petitions to Congress to halt the war.

... as the war dragged on and the American bombardment increasingly devastated the Vietnamese homeland, Dr. King decided that, as a fighter for justice and humanity, he must publicly state his concern relative to Vietnam.

He sent one of his advisors to see me in the summer of 1967. As a United States senator ..., I had been speaking out against U.S. involvement in Vietnam for several years. I argued that it was a mistake to send young Americans to die in a civil conflict in which we were largely ignorant of the issues involved. It was doubly a mistake to enter such a conflict against the powerful thrust of nationalism. Ho Chi Minh and his supporters held the banner of Vietnamese independence. ....

I included these thoughts in my discussion with Dr. King's advisor.

In the introduction he wrote to accompany publication of Dr. King's April 4, 1967 speech to a New York City conference of Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, George McGovern wrote about a discussion he had with an emissary from Dr. King concerning opposition to the war in Vietnam. McGovern says:
As one deeply committed to the civil rights leadership of Dr. King, I expressed the view that we also needed his strong moral voice in the effort to end the war.

The emissary said Dr. King was seriously considering a possible statement on the moral issues raised by the war.... "Beyond Vietnam," the brilliant speech he ... delivered in New York City ... reiterated the importance of nonviolent social change and his deep commitment to equal rights for all humanity. Had he not been assassinated in the spring of 1968, I have no doubt his voice would have been joined even more intently against a war that did not finally end until the spring of 1975.

4 APRIL 1967

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice.

... A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. .... Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such. the ghettos of the North over the last three years ... They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. 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. ....

.... If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read "Vietnam." It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. ....

... I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.
Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

...I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and dealt death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. ....

... there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing.

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing clergy and laymen concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. ....

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. .... Increasingly by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin, we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous 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." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has every thing to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." .... A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. ....

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. ....

We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. ....

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

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. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Delivered at 11th Annual Convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Atlanta GA, 16 Aug. 1967
And so I say to you today that I still stand by nonviolence. ....

And the other thing is, I'm concerned about a better world. I'm concerned about justice; I'm concerned about brotherhood; I'm concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can't murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can't establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can't murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

What I'm saying to you this morning is communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social. And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both. Now when I say questioning the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.

In other words, "Your whole structure must be changed." A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will "thingify" them and make them things. And therefore, they will exploit them and poor people generally economically. And a nation that will exploit economically will have to have foreign investments and everything else, and it will have to use its military might to protect them. All of these problems are tied together. What I'm saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, "America, you must be born again!"

The Drum Major Instinct


In February 4, 1968 sermon in Atlanta, Dr. King had these words:
... nations are caught up with the drum major instinct. "I must be first." "I must be supreme." And I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. ....

God didn't call America to do what she's doing in the world now. God didn't call America to engage in ... the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We've committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world .... And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation.


Anglican bishop of Johannesburg who was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his tireless efforts to end apartheid in South Africa

1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote this in his introduction for the March 31, 1968 sermon Dr. King delivered at the at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., 4 days before his death:
I had forgotten just how eloquent Dr. Martin Luther King was. .... Very few could put words together in quite the way he had a knack for doing: ... how often have we quoted his beautiful saying about human community, "We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools." .... Who could better his "The time is always ripe to do right"?


It is almost as if he were preaching that sermon for us today, for it is as apt today as it ever was.... We are undergoing another period of transition, when we could so easily become Rip Van Winkles sleeping through great revolutions because we had failed to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses that the new situation demands. .... When we could spend obscene amounts on weapons of death and destruction when just a minute fraction of those budgets of death would ensure that God's children everywhere would have clean water, adequate health care, enough to eat, a decent home and education. It is wonderful that Dr. Martin Luther King was so passionate in his opposition to war and so zealous for peace. ....


I am sure he would have supported the call for the IMF and the World Bank to prepare for the new millennium by ... calling for the cancellation of the debt that so many poor countries carry. .... Spiritual truth, it seems, is always relevant and apt. Thus it is not ultimately surprising to see just how applicable Dr. King's sermon in the National Cathedral in 1968 is to today's situation.

Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution
Delivered at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
31 March 1968
from A KNOCK AT MIDNIGHT, © 1998.
Congressional Record, 9 April 1968.

Dr. King said:
... one ... challenge that we face is simply that we must find an alternative to war and bloodshed. Anyone who feels ... that war can solve the social problems facing mankind is sleeping through a great revolution. ....


... Our involvement in the war in Vietnam ... has strengthened the military-industrial complex; it has strengthened the forces of reaction in our nation. ....

It has played havoc with our domestic destinies. ... it has put us in a position of appearing to the world as an arrogant nation ... when we have not even put our own house in order.


It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. And the alternative to disarmament, ... the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation ....


This is why I felt the need of raising my voice against that war and working wherever I can to arouse the conscience of our nation on it. .... I believe today that there is a need for all people of goodwill to come with a massive act of conscience and say in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "We ain’t goin’ study war no more." ....

Prairie Songbook p. 48, 2nd song, I Ain’t Gonna Study War No More, verses in Prairie program.
[Second verse is from Peter Yarrow, 3rd from the UUA Hymnal.]

Closing Words
Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Quotations above, unless otherwise noted, are from A Call To Conscience, © 2001 by the Heirs to the Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr.