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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.

I don't know where you got the idea I was conducting a per-
sonal vendetta against your mother. Such is not the case.
I mentioned in one magazine article that her job involves
her in the machinery of madness, and that involves one to
a degree that one's humanity can be destroyed by it.  I
have a friend who is a high level official in the Dept.
of Defense, and who is a daily communicant.  I have told
him as much.  I know another guy who has bombed S. Vietnam
from his B-52 at 50,000 ft.  He has never seen what he has
bombed and therefore, doesn't see his responsibility.  And
I talked with another flier who has carried nuclear weap-
ons over the Chinese mainland.  He didn't see his respon-
sibility either.  I'm just trying to say that this society
has the power to makes us irresponsible in the sense that
it divides our public and private lives.  It makes us schiz-
ophrenic unless we're willing to unit what we are per-
sonally and publically, according to the norms of  justice,
the Gospel of Christ, and our own Bill of Rights.

I'm convinced that your mother has a flawless personal life;
that she has sacrificed mightly for her family, that she
has been the good neighbor to many people, I was merely
trying to suggest that more is demanded today.  Our ghettos
rise, our students are alienated, we have troops in 40
countries, we have better overkill capacity year by year,   
other Vietnams sinner and threaten to erupt.  The American
people deserve better, but they will only get better if
they struggle for the freedoms that we have allowed to
slip into the hands of our leaders.   

I believe that Sel. Service is onormously unjust, even a-
part from the whole unjust machinery of war.  I believe that
it is better to pour blood on draft files than to say noth-
ing about our young men shedding blood, theirs and other's.
I believe it is better to burn draft files with napalm
than to be a silent partner to the burning of women and
children.  And to say this, I'm prepared to take the con-
sequences.  I have a 6 yr. sentence now which I'm serving
at the federal prison camp at Allenwood, Pa., and I'm 
likely to get another 6 yrs. at sentancing for the Catons-
ville affair next Friday.  This doesn't particularly dis-
turb me.  I owe this country a great deal, and it strikes
me that I might serve best in jail.  Who knows?  A Christian
might belong there.  Or one trying to be a Christian might
belong there.

Please convey warmest regards and love to your mother
when you write.  We tried to tell her that we meant her no