Spirituality of Resistance: John Dear’s Speech to the Sabeel Conference of Palestinians

On May 9, 2007, the legendary Jesuit peacemaker Rev. Daniel Berrigan turned 86 years old. He’s still at it, still speaking out against war, still holding on to the vision and wisdom of peace and Gospel nonviolence. This summer, a series of his ten best books, including his autobiography, will be republished by Wipf and Stock.
To celebrate his birthday, and his keeping at it all these years, friends have produced an astonishing CD of Dan reciting and reflecting on 25 of his best poems. I wrote the liner notes, Martin Sheen and Howard Zinn wrote the text for the back of the CD. Just before he died, novelist Kurt Vonnergut sent his endorsement, “If Jesus were a poet, this is what he would sound like.”
In honor of Dan’s birthday and this great new CD, I thought I’d offer the title poem, Dan’s insightful summation of these fifty states. May it inspire us to speak out against the unjust, immoral, illegal war on Iraq, through our own nonviolent action.
“The Trouble With Our State”
By Daniel Berrigan
The trouble with our state
was not civil disobedience
which in any case was hesitant and rare.
Civil disobedience was rare as kidney stone
No, rarer; it was disappearing like immigrant’s disease.
You’ve heard of a war on cancer?
There is no war like the plague of media
There is no war like routine
There is no war like 3 square meals
There is no war like a prevailing wind.
It flows softly; whispers
don’t rock the boat!
The sails obey, the ship of state rolls on.
The trouble with our state
–we learned only afterward
when the dead resembled the living who resembled the dead
and civil virtue shone like paint on tin
and tin citizens and tin soldiers marched to the common whip
–our trouble
the trouble with our state
with our state of soul
our state of siege–

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