humanly and carefully and nonviolently – the example of Dan Berrigan

[Rev. Dan Berrigan, hero of the resistance to the Vietnam War, died on April 30, 2016. The following is an excerpt from a tribute by Chris Hedges.]

Dan provided, for me, the most cogent definition of religious faith.

“The good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere,” he told me. “I believe if it is done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don’t know where. I don’t think the Bible grants us to know where goodness goes, what direction, what force. I have never been seriously interested in the outcome. I was interested in trying to do it humanly and carefully and nonviolently and let it go.”

A bagpiper played as Dan’s casket was loaded into the back of a silver and black hearse outside the basilica. Hundreds of mourners, their cheeks streaked by rain and tears, filled the street. I stood on the steps.

It was a few blocks from here, at the shrine of the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, that Dan baptized my youngest daughter five years ago. He cradled her in his arms and spoke of faith as resistance. He reminisced about marching in Selma with Dr. King. He asked us to each say out loud what qualities we hoped my daughter would possess. Dan said he wished for “a sense of humor.”

The hearse moved slowly down the vacant street. A man held his fist in the air. Some in the crowd sang a hymn. When the hearse reached the end of the street, its luminous red taillight began to blink on and off in the drizzle, signaling a right turn. Then it was gone.

A change is coming. I can feel it.

– Chris Hedges, reflecting on his friendship with Rev. Daniel Berrigan who died on April 30

The following is from the statement Dan Berrigan wrote when a group known as the Catonsville Nine burned 378 draft files with homemade napalm to protest the war:

We could not so help us God do otherwise
For we are sick at heart
Our hearts give us no rest for thinking of the Land of Burning Children …
We say: Killing is disorder
life and gentleness and community and unselfishness
is the only order we recognize …
How long must the world’s resources
be raped in the service of legalized murder?
When at what point will you say no to this war?
We have chosen to say
with the gift of our liberty
if necessary our lives:
the violence stops here
the death stops here
the suppression of the truth stops here
this war stops here …

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