Saturday, 27 April 2013

Pakistan: Is the country pushed into anarchy?

The blasts taking place in Karachi during this week seem part of the grand conspiracy to plunge the country deep into anarchy and challenging writ of the government.  Bringing economic activities to grinding halt in Karachi is aimed at adding to the woes for the country facing serious balance of payment crisis.

The anti Pakistan forces, in a bid to sabotage general election scheduled on 11th May, have been attacking meeting of MQM, ANP and the latest victim is PPP. On Saturday election camps of MQM and PPP, two major parties of Sindh came under three bombings attacks in Karachi killing at least five people and leaving more than 40 wounded.

Earlier, at least two people were killed and more than 25 were injured in two separate blasts near the MQM election office in the city’s Orangi Town area. The first bomb exploded outside a MQM election office and the second one outside a nearby Shia Imambargah in the area.

The twin explosions were very loud and were heard far away and damaged the nearby buildings and vehicles. A complete blackout was reported in the area after the explosions. Saturday’s blast raised the number to five terrorist attacks in the metropolis, leading death at least 26 people in these attacks. This prompted observing Sunday as yet another mourning day and bringing industrial and commercial activities to grinding halt.

Although no group claimed responsibility of both the blasts but the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) vowed to target PPP, ANP and MQM. The banned outfit had claimed responsibilities of the Thursday and Friday attacks, targeting MQM and ANP. Around 11 people were killed and more than 50 injured when a bomb blast hit the election meeting of ANP candidate Bashir Jan in Karachi on Friday.

As I have been saying that the sole objective of perpetrators is to kill people, at least four people were injured when suspected militants lobbed a hand grenade at an election office of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in Sibi area of Balochistan on Saturday. Meanwhile, the militants hurled a hand grenade at the office of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) candidate in Panjgoor area of Balochistan.

The perpetrators want to ensure deferring election by undertaking killing and terrorizing people so that they don’t come out of their houses to cast their votes. Some of the fanatics have already termed casting vote un-Islamic and also warned those not following their instructions can face stern consequences.

When MQM announce to observe mourning day life in Karachi comes to grinding halt. It is true that the party loves its members and if a few are assassinated, it requests all to observe mourning day. Not only areas where it has a large vote bank, but where its followers live just don’t open shops and schools and public transport also remain off road. This is a great sign of unity but its darker side also needs to be looked at.

First and most important,when MQM workers and supporters are killed and educational and commercial activities in its areas of concentration also remain closed it is ultimate loss of its vote bank, mostly belongs to middle and lower middle class. Millions of people that worker on daily wages faces starvation. When factories remain closed no revenue is collected and disturbance in clearing of goods at ports, disrupt supplies throughout the country.

Historically, those sitting on opposition benches give strike calls but it does not suit MQM as it remained in power for nearly two decades and also enjoy access to power corridors. It should be influencing the district management and law enforcing agencies to ensure peace throughout the country. It has the largest ‘street power’ and youth which should be keeping a watch on criminals.

It is in common knowledge that criminals come to Karachi to accomplish tasks given to them. These include killing of people, undertaking blasts through improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and kidnapping of people for ransom. These elements have permanent hideouts in areas of ethnic concentration and also use residents of the areas as ‘human shield’. Once their mission is accomplished they go back to their home towns and wait for the next ‘assignment’.

It is also on record that arms are also brought into Karachi from up country and sold openly. To the utmost surprise there are ‘rent a weapon’ shops in certain areas. Ironically, law enforcing agencies are not allowed to undertake any operation in certain areas by the political parties, which draw strength from these unscrupulous elements. Even if a few are rounded up, their ‘godfathers’ arrange the bails and get them free. In the worst scenario if brought to courts of law, they are acquitted due to ‘non-availability of credible evidence’.

Strange is the attitude of law enforcing agencies that fail to arrest those claiming responsibility of blasts and killings innocent citizens, most notorious are Taliban, TTP and LeJ. It is on record that Taliban had said ‘we would free Karachi which has become hostage of MQM’ and have also claimed responsibility of killing MQM activists.

It is often said that now militant groups are embedded in law enforcing agencies and one has to believe that. According to some estimates from 25,000 to 50,000 people have been killed in Pakistan by these militants and extremists groups but hardly any killer has been hanged. Some cynics even go to the extent of saying that these accused remain in jail and spend most luxurious lives for years and are finally acquitted.

I one of the TV shows Faisal Abidi of PPP has raised a question why activists of PPP,MQM and ANP are being targeted and members of JI, PML-N and other religious parties are not being attacked. He himself also provided the reply that those parties not been attacked enjoy very cordial relationship with these banned outfits, which are also rewarded appropriately.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Pakistan: Eight Blasts Rattle Three Provinces

The topic of my last blog posted a week ago was “Election and Bloodshed Threat” in which I had reiterated that the perpetrators getting arms and funds from abroad want to plunge the country into anarchy and then into civil war.

I had also highlighted threat of bloodshed during general elections scheduled for 11th May 2013. Prior to the commencement of election campaign in Pakistan, experts had expressed apprehensions that corner meeting of politicians may come under terrorist attacks.

Many of the readers of my blog sent me text messages that I was trying to spread unnecessary chaos. Discussion with my media friends on Tuesday morning once again made me jittery and by the evening a few blasts rocked Karachi and Quetta. Over the last 24 hours at least eight separate blasts have created havoc in three provinces of the country and raised fears of deteriorating law and order situation as the May 11 polls draw nearer.

The attacks since Tuesday evening in Quetta, Karachi, Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan have led to 11 deaths and have left up to 75 wounded. The latest attack on Wednesday targeted a police station on the outskirts of Quetta, the second blast in the provincial capital since this morning and the sixth since yesterday.

The blast raised the total death toll since yesterday in Quetta alone to six, with up to 60 injured, at least 15 have been injured since this morning. According to police, unknown attackers on motorcycles lobbed a hand-held bomb on the Kechi Baig police station in Quetta’s Sariab area around midday.

Earlier this morning, 13 people including two children were injured in a blast outside a private hospital in Gailani road area of the city. On Tuesday, four explosions left six people dead and up to 45 injured in the city.

Banned extremist outfit, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), had claimed responsibility of Tuesday’s attacks, as usual, though this time target was not Hazara community.

Late Tuesday, militants also attacked an election camp of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi. The blast left at least five people dead and 15 others injured. This led to virtual close down of country’s commercial capital on Wednesday at the call of the MQM in protest of the killings.

Earlier on Wednesday, an explosion near the house of a local Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader injured three people in Peshawar’s Sarki Gate area. Meanwhile, two remotely detonated roadside bombs exploded in Dera Ismail Khan this morning when the convoy of election candidate from PK-68 constituency Israrullah Khan Gandapur was passing through the area, no casualties was reported.

One may recall that some of the quarters have been demanding handing over control to Pakistan Army on the Election Day, but it seems the time has come to demand immediate deployment of troops. This is being demanded because some of the quarters have been demanding deferring election for three years, at least or till withdrawal on Nato forces from Afghanistan is complete.

No political party, be it big or small, wants election to be delayed. Therefore, one has the reasons to believe that elements getting funds and arms from abroad can be solely held responsible for the blasts and killings.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

 Pakistan: Election and Bloodshed Threat

In my various blogs I have highlighted involvement of foreign hands in sabotage and killings. I have also been saying that the perpetrators are getting arms and funds from abroad and their only objective is to plunge the country into anarchy and then to civil war.

I have also highlighted threat of bloodshed during general elections scheduled for 11th May 2013. My opinion was based on fast changing local and regional political landscape in which the so called rebels are funded and supplied arms by those who wish to create their hegemony in South Asia, Middle East and North Africa.

Prior to the commencement of election campaign in Pakistan, experts had expressed apprehensions that corner meeting of politicians may come under terrorist attacks. These apprehensions have started coming true as meeting of ANP, PML-N and MQM have been attacked, resulting in killing of political leaders and injury of dozens of people.

Attacks on ANP leaders and followers were anticipated, because Taliban had done this earlier. In fact ANP’s participation in coalition government at federal and provincial levels was not liked by those who prefer to call themselves Taliban. They have been challenging writ of the government at federal as well as provincial levels. They have emerged the worst opponents of ANP and MQM who enjoy support of their vote banks in KP and Sindh.

It is on record that Taliban had expressed their determination to free Karachi from the hostage of MQM, may be they have the same sentiments for ANP. However, it has been expressed repeatedly that religious extremists enjoy very cordial relationship with the PML-N. Taliban animosity with ANP and MQM is not a secret, especially because both the parties have been condemning the attitude of Taliban. In fact no civilized person can endorse killing of innocent people. It becomes all the more disgusting when women and children come under attacks.

Taliban don’t consider most of the Pakistanis ‘good practicing Muslims’ and just want to punish them. In Karachi MQM has emerged the biggest opponent of killing of people on the basis of religious faith. Taliban-MQM rift became more intense when the later decided to support Hazaras. In fact one of the leaders of MQM, Manzar Imam was assassinated soon after he played a key role in organizing protest rallies against killing of Hazaras in Karachi. Taliban mistook him as Shia, whereas he was a Sunni.

One of the conspiracy theories is that Taliban is ‘B’ team of CIA, which wants to create unrest in by propagating ‘Shia Sunni Conflict’ theory in Pakistan. In fact in Pakistan no one buys this trash as the motive of perpetrators has become evident, who have been killing Shias as well as Sunnis as they want to create a hupe that the two groups are blood thirsty.

Some cynics term killing of political activist part of the conspiracy to defer general elections in Pakistan. Taliban know their weak position and just don’t expect their nominees or even supporters to win seats in general elections. Therefore, they wish to terrorize people and keep them away from casting their vote on the Election Day. Taliban seem to be supporters of those groups who also don’t want election to take place in Pakistan.

One may ask who doesn’t want elections to be held on 11th May 2013. This is not diabolic thinking as whispers had started even before the interim set up was put in place. Rumors mongers have been talking about bloodshed in parts of Sindh, KP and Balochistan. Initially it was feared that nationalist parties of Sindh and Balochistan would boycott the election, but after Baloch leaders living in exile decided not only to take part in election but also reached Pakistan.

If all the political parties of Pakistan decide to participate in the election process, it will be a big defeat of those who are resisting holding general elections in Pakistan. Opponents of general election know that the silent majority will decide the fate. Therefore, they are terrorizing people to keep them away from casting their vote.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Pak-US relations: Saga of Love and Hate

The recent news about suspension of support to Pakistan’s armed forces don’t bode well for the two countries. Pressure from the general public is rising on the Government of Pakistan to pull itself out of proxy war in Afghanistan.

Over the years Afghanistan has been living on aid and any cut in inflow could lead to hike in opium cultivation in the country. Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has been increasing for a third year in a row and is heading for a record high, the United Nations said in a report released on Monday.

Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium, the raw ingredient in heroin, and last year provided about 75 percent of the global crop — a figure that may jump to 90 per cent this year due to increased cultivation.

The southern region is expected to remain the largest opium cultivating region in Afghanistan in 2013. Poppy cultivation in Helmand and Kandahar, the main opium cultivating provinces in the country, is expected to increase and Helmand is expected to retain its status as the largest opium cultivating province in the country.

This poses two major threats because illicit shipment may pass though Pakistan and amounts received in return may also be used for financing terrorist activities in the country. The incidents of sabotage and killing have witnessed sharp increase with the commencement of election campaign. Three major incident have already reported aiming ANP, PML-N and MQM candidates.

Historically Pak-US relationships have witnessed ‘love and hate’ spells. Pakistani experts are of the consensus that the relations have remained subservient to US foreign policy. Closer examination of the two most recent eras, Ziaul Haq regime spread over one decade and Pervez Musharraf rule also spread over a decade are the proof of this statement.

During these two eras Pakistan remained a need of the United States because of Afghanistan. As the time for withdrawal of US troops approach there will be a change in sentiments, the quest for democracy will begin and no reference will be made why the dictators were supported.

In Pakistan the general elections have been scheduled for 11th May. While the US should be following wait and see policy, there seems an urgent need to install a government which is willing to look after the US interest in the region. This demands revisiting Pakistan-US relationship and deciding the priorities.

This has become  a must because critics seem to be divided into two distinct but opposite groups, one saying United States need Pakistan’s support in ensuring peace in Afghanistan and second believing Pakistan needs US support to overcome internal and external threats facing the country. However, both the groups strongly believe that musty relationship between the US and Afghan governments could prove detrimental for both the countries.

Soldiers and military hardware from Afghanistan has to pass through Pakistan, which needs safe passage and speedy and cost effective movement; no one can deny that Pakistan offers the most cost effective route.

It is strongly believed that if United States avoids offending the groups that consider it ‘occupier’ the assaults on withdrawing forces can be minimized. Under the prevailing scenario there is high probability that some of the Afghan warlords may intensify their attacks on Nato troops and Afghan forces.

While both the US and Pakistani governments are trying to improve relationship by removing the irritants, commencement of work on Pakistani portion of Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline has been taken by the US administration an act that makes Pakistan liable for imposition of economic sanctions.

Most of the experts are of the view that since Pakistan needs to overcome its energy crisis and IP offers a reliable and cost effective solution, US administration should not oppose this, mainly because looming energy crisis is adversely affecting Pakistan’s economy and GDP growth. An economically strong Pakistan can help in maintaining peace and boosting economic activities in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of Nato forces.

Any adverse decision can heighten anti US sentiments in Pakistan and imposition of economic sanctions could lead to poor law and order situation that may delay holding general elections in the country. The unrest in Pakistan can also cause disruption in the movement of Nato troops and hardware through Pakistan.

Over the years Pakistan has been able to weed out militants and contain their movement across the border and any lapse could prove fatal for the three stakeholders, Nato, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

United States of Armageddon

Let me first of all thank Finian Cunningham for providing me the strength. I have picked the tile of this blog from one of his articles. Going through the contents I also got the clue why he was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011; it was his critical endeavor to highlight human rights violations by the ruling regime.

Reading his article titled ‘Iran Represents a Deathblow to US Global Hegemony’, helps in understanding growing tension in Korean Peninsula and imposition of more stringent economic sanctions on Iran over more than three decades.

Finian writes, “The United States of America has become a byword for war. No other nation state has started as many wars or conflicts in modern times than the USA - the United States of Armageddon”.
He says “The real source of conflict in the present round of war tensions on the Korean Peninsula is the United states”.

He infers that United States is presented as a restraining, defensive force. But, in reality, Washington’s historical drive for war and hegemony in every corner of the world becomes evident if one starts from dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan to the current conflicts with North Korea and Iran. 

He warns, “North Korea may present an immediate challenge to Washington’s hegemonic ambitions. However, Iran presents a much greater and potentially fatal challenge to the American global empire”.

Writers and thinkers like William Blum and Noam Chomsky are helping people in understanding that the US has been involved in more than 60 wars and many more proxy conflicts, subterfuges and coups over the nearly seven decades since the Second World War. No other nation on earth comes close to this US track record of belligerence and threat to world security. No other nation has so much blood on its hands.

Americans believe their country is the first in the world for freedom, humanitarian principles, technology and economic prowess. The truth is more brutal and prosaic; the US is first in the world for war-mongering and raining death and destruction down on others.

If the US is not perpetrating war directly, then it is waging violence through surrogates, such as past South American dictatorships and death squads or its Middle Eastern proxy military machine, Israel.

That bellicose tendency seems to have accelerated since the demise of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago. No sooner had the Soviet Union imploded than the US led the First Persian Gulf War on Iraq in 1991. That was then swiftly followed by a bloody intervention in Somalia under the deceptively charming title ‘Operation Restore Hope’.

Since then the world has seen the US becoming embroiled in more and more wars - sometimes under the guise of “coalitions of the willing”, the United Nations or NATO. A variety of pretexts have also been invoked: war on drugs, war on terror, Axis of Evil, responsibility to protect, the world’s policeman, upholding global peace and security, preventing weapons of mass destruction. But always, these wars are Washington-led affairs. And always the pretexts are mere pretty window-dressing for Washington’s brutish strategic interests.

Now it seems people have reached a point and they can conveniently say the world is witnessing a state of permanent war prosecuted by the US and its underlings: Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq (again), Libya, Pakistan, Somalia (again), Mali and Syria, to mention a few. These theaters of criminal US military operations join a list of ongoing covert wars against Palestine, Cuba, Iran and North Korea. 
A question arises, why has the US such an inordinate propensity for war? The answer is ‘power’. The global capitalist economy mandates a fatal power struggle for the control of natural resources. To maintain its unique historic position of commanding capitalist profits and privilege, the US corporate elite - the executive of the world capitalist system - must have hegemony over the world’s natural resources.

After the collapse of Soviet Union the US has been flailing to contrive a replacement “enemy” and pretext for its essential militarism. The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent “war on terror” has fulfilled this purpose to a degree, even though it is replete with contradictions that belie its fraudulence, such as the support given to Al Qaeda terrorist elements currently to overthrow the government of Syria.

Iran presents a greater and more problematic challenge to US global hegemony. The US in 2013 is very different from what it was in 1945. Gone is its former economic prowess and it is suffering from internal social decay and malaise.

Iran does not have nuclear weapons or ambitions and it has repeatedly stated this, thereby gaining much-reciprocated good will from the international community. Therefore, the US or its surrogates cannot justify a military strike on Iran.

Iran exerts a controlling influence over oil and gas that keeps the entire global economic system alive, any war with Iran would result in a deathblow to the waning US and global economy. 

Iran presents a mortal challenge to US hegemony, being a formidable military power. Its 80 million people are committed to anti-imperialism and any strike from the US or its allies would result in a region-wide war. The longer that stalemate persists, the more the US global power will drain from its corpse.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Pakistan: Terrorists Blowing Up Gas Pipelines

In the early hours on Wednesday, 10th April, 2013 perpetrators blew up 16 inch diameter high pressure gas transmission pipeline in Jafarabad District of Baluchistan  This was the sixth sabotage activity which took place since 16th March this year.

This transmission line owned by of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) is commonly known as Indus Left Bank Pipeline (ILBP) that supplies gas to Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL), responsible for the distributing gas to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunistan provinces.

It is necessary to point out that perpetrators have once again become active in Baluchistan and are especially targeting electricity and gas transmission networks. These people not only wish to terrorize people of Baluchistan to keep them away from election process but also want to bring economic activities in the country to grinding halt.

The objective is to create conditions whereby election could not be held in the province. The sabotage activities are also aimed at suspending work on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, which has just started in Pakistan. The United States has repeatedly warned Pakistan not to go ahead with the project; else economic sanctions can also be imposed.

It has been often apprehended that the perpetrators operating in Baluchistan are supplied funds and arms by some external elements and fingers are often raised at United States, India and even Israel. Though, none of these countries will ever accept that they have been godfathering the perpetrators, there are enough reasons to believe the allegations.

First and the top most important, the stories of sabotage, unrest and weakening government writ are spread to keep oil and gas exploration companies away from the province. India has bidden farewell to Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline on the security reasons.

This factor also mars prospects of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline becoming a reality. India is deadly against these two pipeline projects on the grounds that it will have to pay Pakistan millions of dollars transit fee and also that it (Pakistan) will get control over gas being supplies to India.
A question arises, why the external powers want to construct their hideouts and operate from Baluchistan province of Pakistan? The reply is simple, not to give a chance to Pakistan to become a corridor for trade and energy supplies.

These powers also want to undermine importance of Gwadar port located in Baluchistan  If peace is restored in the province and transit goods (including energy products) start moving through Gwadar port, it will be a setback for Chabahar port constructed by India in Iran.

Terrorist chose Baluchistan mainly because it has a coastal front of about 1,250 kilometers, which is mostly uninhibited. Baluchistan is the largest province of Pakistan in terms of area but has the lowest population, mainly concentrated in few areas. This makes the province an ideal place for constructing hideouts and training facilities for the terrorists. One could still recall name of a banned outfit, Jundullah based in Baluchistan.

Jundullah used to wear two caps, in Pakistan it was known as nationalist outfit fighting for the rights of Baloch and in Iran fighting for the rights of Sunnis, in other words its sole objective was to create unrest, kill people and sabotage private and public property. It got a big jolt when its chief was hanged in Iran and it was forced to go into hibernation.

However, those who wish to create unrest in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran have once again organized themselves and are operating from Baluchistan  If any action is taken against the perpetrators, their godfathers start the propaganda that ‘poor Balochs are being victimized’ and also start demanding an independent Baluchistan.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Pakistan: Election Engineering

The general elections have been scheduled for 11th May 2013 and an interim set up has been created to ensure fair, free and transparent elections. Now a rather tedious but a little tricky process of scrutiny of nominations papers has started.

Reportedly many of the giants face tenuous situation, some of them declared 'disqualified' and others also face uncertain future. While appeals will be filed by all those facing disqualification, getting the decisions reversed will be a process to be watched carefully.

Every individual, especially those who claim to be literate, knowing law and also the basic parameters required qualifying, will have to keep their eyes and ears open and also respond immediately if there is any violation.

While mainstream media is trying to keep the viewers posted, many suspect its credibility. Therefore, simultaneously more rigorous analyses are being posted on the social media.

The beauty is that many of those posting their views hardly know that their message reach millions of people within a few minutes. Since people have the option to use Urdu and other regional languages, besides English; the viewership is reaching a size that was never witnessed in the previous elections.

One of the regrets is that people often post loaded, derogatory and even indecent remarks, which shows that they have exhausted all the arguments. This is natural because in the past people have never enjoyed an opportunity to make their comments made public and also viewed by millions.

It is expected that as people use alternate and social media they will also learn the norms. These norms are not dictated by anyone from outside but fall under 'self regulatory mechanism'. If a person does not wish someone else to post indecent remarks about his/her leader, he/she will also have to abstain from such practice.

Gone are the days when one had to wait for days to get the news printed in a newspaper. Now print media updates stories regularly and television channels try to cover the events at the spot. The beauty of technology is that now every citizen has become 'news reporter and photographer'. 

Most of the mobile phones have cameras and also the facility to make a brief video, once recorded the item can be uploaded at the Facebook wall in a few seconds. Another beauty is that soon others also start posting their comments.

This time television channels will face a stiff competition from social media. Advertisers have already started budgeting and the general feeling is that electronic and social media may get even bigger share of the pie.

It is on record that social media played a very important role in the recent uprising in the Middle East and North Africa, commonly known as MENA region. Despite many restrictions, use of social media is phenomenal in the countries where political meeting can't be held.

Now people use social media and mobile phones to pass the bug. Though, efforts are made to disable such communication the success is still very limited.

There is consensus that in the forthcoming elections youth will play a very decisive role. Youth is not only technology savvy but also very smart in disseminating information. One of the evidence of their collective efforts was rounding up of Shahraukh Jatoi.

 Therefore, it may be said that if they are convinced and also develop the commitment they can accomplish the most difficult task

Thursday, 4 April 2013

United States: Greatest purveyor of violence

Many of the youngsters may not be fully aware of Martin Luther King and Vietnam War. However the US war mania is evident today if one looks at the role it has been playing In Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Afghanistan and even Iran and Pakistan. This speech of Martin Luther King may be long but each word has to be read and understood by the US tax payers whose money is used in spreading wars and also by those who are victim of US war mongering.
By 1967, Martin Luther King had become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall US foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 ‑ a year to the day before he was murdered ‑ King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." Time magazine called the speech "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi," and the Washington Post declared that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country and his people."

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.
The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.
Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.
Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.
In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.
I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.
Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.
Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.
The Importance of Vietnam
Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. 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. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the 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.
Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.
My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? 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. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.
For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:
O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!
Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. 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. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.
As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace 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, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the "Vietcong" or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?
Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.
This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.
Strange Liberators
And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.
They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.
Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not "ready" for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.
For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.
Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.
After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators -- our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change -- especially in terms of their need for land and peace.
The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese --the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged.
They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one "Vietcong"-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them -- mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.
What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?
We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political force -- the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?
Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.
Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front -- that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the north" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.
How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them -- the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?
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.
So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.
When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.
Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.
At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our 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 hell for the poor.
This Madness Must Cease
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 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. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.
This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words: "Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."
If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play.
The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.
In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:
End all bombing in North and South Vietnam
Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.
Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.
Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.
Protesting the War
Meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.
As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.
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 the 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 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. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.
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. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
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 investment.
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 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, 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 is not haphazard and superficial. 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 Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.
This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

The People are Important
These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. 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 anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept -- so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force -- has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. 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. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word."
We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.
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.
Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

Courtesy: Information Clearing House