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Letter from Philip Berrigan to Miss Murphy: Nov. 1, 1968

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Letter from Philip Berrigan to Miss Murphy: Nov. 1, 1968
View larger version of imageCatonsville Library, Baltimore County Public Library
Collection: Friends of Catonsville Library
Date: 1968-11-01
Date of Digitization: 2004-03-30
Source: Catonsville Library
Original Dimensions: 27 x 21 cm
Creator: Berrigan, Philip, 1923-2002
A copy of a letter written on November 1, 1968 from prison by Philip Berrigan to Miss Mary Murphy (Mary E. Murphy's daughter), in response to her letter.

                                          Fri., Nov. 1                                                 

Dear Miss Murphy:
I make haste to answer your letter from Baltimore County
Jail, where yours was forwarded to me. First of all, let 
me thank you for it; it was honest, straightforward and 
very much to the point. 

Though I realize you didn't write me of your work to evoke 
admiration or praise, I think you nonetheless deserv it.  
More power to you, and the Lord's increase. 

Now to the matter at hand. I suppose our difference re-
volve around different views of the war and the kind of 
society that can produce it. I fought in Europe during 
WWII, had two brothers there.  During the present conflict, 
another brother served in Vietnam, plus a nephew on his 
second hitch with the Marines near the DMZ.  Such for the 
acquaintace I have with war, first-hand and remote, per-
sonal and family.  

We are in a nuclear age, and the chances of avoiding nu-
clear war become less and less.  The U.S.  is currently the 
mightiest nation in history- we have more economic and 
military power than all of mankind (the remainder) put 
together. I am one of those idealists who feel that re-
sponsibility ought to match power, and I feel that our
own responsibilty has not done this.  And because it has-
n't this country loved by both of us, is being torn 
apart. At home and abroad.

Where does this responsibility go?  It goes to all of us 
from President Johnson to you and me.  While you attended 
the liturgy at St. Gregory's I was next door at St. 
Peter's trying to organize the poor against slumlords, 
or I was down in Washington talking to Rusk or Rostow, 
Or I was on the road speaking at some university.  All 
unavailing because they (in D.C.) have the power, because 
good people everywhere serve them unwittingly, and be-
cause they don't have to change- at home or abroad.

This may be the most brutal war in history - we have lost 
over 30,000 young Americans, and by Sen. Kennedy's report, 
the S. Vietnamese alone suffer 150,000 casualties a year.  
Where does the responsiblity go?  Again, to everyone who
is not against this madness, because if one is not against 
it, they are for it.  They pay their taxes, they elect a 
hawk Congress, they send their young men to war.