21 January 2003
1. Names. It’s MLK Jr. Day (well, it was) and we’re talking about slavery and how it more or less ended. Let me read you a piece of one of King’s last sermons. (You should know that by 1967 he had come out as an opponent of the Vietnam War, a position that cost him with some who wanted him to stick to civil rights. In this excerpt he explains why he won’t do that.)
Martin Luther King, Jr. preaching in the Washington National Cathedral on
March 31, 1968:
One other challenge that we face is simply that we must find an alternative
to war and bloodshed. Anyone who feels, and there are still a lot of people
who feel that way, that war can solve the social problems facing mankind is
sleeping through a revolution. President Kennedy said on one occasion,
Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind." The world
must hear this. I pray God that
will hear this before it is too late America
... It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence.
It is either nonviolence or nonexistence, and the alternative to disarmament,
the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative
to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world
may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation. ... This
is why I felt the need of raising my voice against that war and working
wherever I can to arouse the conscience of our nation. ...
We are challenged to eradicate the last vestiges of racial injustice from
our nation. ... It is an unhappy truth that...spoken and unspoken,
acknowledged and denied, subtle and sometimes not so subtle - the disease of
racism permeates and poisons a whole body politic. And I can see nothing
more urgent than for Americans to work passionately and unrelentingly to get
rid of the disease of racism. ...
We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty. Like a
monstrous octopus, poverty spreads its nagging, prehensile tentacles into
hamlets and villages all over our world. They are ill-housed, they are
ill-nourished, they are shabbily clad. I have seen it in
Latin America; I
have seen it in
Africa; I have seen this poverty in Asia. ... Not only do we
see poverty abroad, I would remind you that in our own nation there are
about forty million people who are poverty-stricken. ... I have seen them in
the ghettos of the North; I have seen them in the rural areas of the South;
I have seen them in
Appalachia. ... There is nothing new about poverty. What
is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of
poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.
We are challenged to develop a world perspective. No individual can live
alone, no nation can live alone, and anyone who feels that he can live alone
is sleeping through a revolution. The world in which we live is
geographically one. The challenge that we face today is to make it one in
terms of brotherhood. ... Through our scientific and technological genius,
we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet... we have not had the
ethical commitment to make it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way,
we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers. Or
we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single
garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And
whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. ... That is the way
God's universe is made; this is the way it is structured.
Groups: menno.org.peace.d, menno.talk.issues
20 Jan 2003
Indeed, the subtle temptation is too familiar, after engagement in
sustained unheeded protest, to slide into the mire of desperation
complicated by an unsettling inextricable fear...that war may be
inevitable in spite of much faithful action. We need some sustenance
from the Spirit here! Suddenly, it occurred to me that Martin Luther
King Jr.'s closing words in the last Sunday Sermon he ever preached on
March 31, 1968in --excerpts from which I quoted on Washington D.C.
MennoLink a few days prior--provide just the fertile ground and
inspiration I need for crafting a prayer of hopeful motivation this
wintry morn in
. May we all be lifted up from wherever we may Goshen
So...I invite you to listen once again to MLK Jr., and take heart from
his own benediction -- the stirring conclusion of his sermon entitled
"Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution." --Clair Hochstetler,
"On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And
then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question,
is it right?
There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe
nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him
it is right. I believe today that there is a need for all people of
goodwill to come with a massive act of conscience and say in the words
of the old Negro spiritual, "We ain't goin' study war no more." This
is the challenge facing modern man.
Let me close by saying that we have difficult days ahead in the
struggle for justice and peace, but I will not yield to a politic of
despair. I'm going to maintain hope as we come to
in this Washington
campaign. The cards are stacked against us. This time we will really
confront a Goliath. God grant that we will be that David of truth set
out against the Goliath of injustice, the Goliath of neglect, the
Goliath of refusing to deal with the problems, and go on with the
determination to make
the truly great America that it is called America
I say to you that our goal is freedom, and I believe we are going to
get there because however much she strays away from it, the goal of
is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be as a people, America
our destiny is tied up in the destiny of
Before the Pilgrim fathers landed at
, we were here. Before Plymouth Jeffersonetched across the pages of history the majestic words of the
, we were here. Before the beautiful words Independence
of the "Star Spangled Banner" were written, we were here.
For more than two centuries our forebearers labored here without wages.
They made cotton king, and they built the homes of their masters in the
midst of the most humiliating and oppressive conditions. And yet out of
a bottomless vitality they continued to grow and develop. If the
inexpressible cruelties of slavery couldn't stop us, the opposition that
we now face will surely fail.
We're going to win our freedom because both the sacred heritage of our
nation and the eternal will of the almighty God are embodied in our
echoing demands. And so, however dark it is, however deep the angry
feelings are, and however violent explosions are, I can still sing "We
We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it
bends toward justice.
We shall overcome because Carlyle is right-"No lie can live forever."
We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right-"Truth,
crushed to earth, will rise again."
We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right-as we were
singing earlier today,
Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne.
Yet that scaffold sways the future.
And behind the dim unknown
stands God, within the shadow
keeping watch above his own.
With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair
the stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the
jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of
Thank God for John, who centuries ago out on a lonely, obscure island
Patmoscaught vision of a new Jerusalem descending out of heaven
from God, who heard a voice saying, "Behold, I make all things new;
former things are passed away."
God grant that we will be participants in this newness and this
magnificent development. If we will but do it, we will bring about a
new day of justice and brotherhood and peace. And that day the morning
stars will sing together and the sons of God will shout for joy. God
Well. If that moves you, as it does me, maybe you’ll want to do something about it. A number of BC folks will be joining others in a march against rushing to war against
, meeting at the Catholic church on the corner of Cable and Elm in Iraq at . I can take a few riders, or ask around. Lima
2. For today, from J/H: the antislavery movement, the Civil War, Reconstruction. For my money these are some of the most intriguing and challenging chapters in this book. That showed up in responses as well. I think that one or another response raised just about every key question that I hoped to discuss in this section, and so I think we’ll look at some of those, and ask those of you who responded to talk a bit about what you wrote to help frame those discussions.
The big thing that always stirs some people up is the
Let’s also look closely at what J/H actually say about this. 110-111, on the “exceptional statesmanship” it would have required.
Another key question: could slavery have ended without the
Civil War? See p. 107, on the emancipation of serfs in
These “what if?” questions are unanswerable in one sense,
but (I think) essential in another. History always turns out only one
way, but it seems inevitable only after the fact. There are always choices.
There are many possible wars that didn’t
happen—the Cuban Missile Crisis, the whole forty-year stalemate of the Cold
War. And if you feel uneasy when J/H engage in what-if
thinking, remember that more standard versions of historians use it just as
much as they do. Those of you who argued that anything else
The standard view: the war was tragic but inevitable, and it was effective in that it preserved the union and freed the slaves. 105: on “revisionist” history and the possibility the war might have been avoided.
The imagination of alternative actions. History looks
inevitable only in hindsight, yes? Not much trickier than trying to be accurate
about alternate histories, but does that mean we should assume that no other
path was possible? To pick one easily imaginable fork in the road, what about a
country where Booth failed to assassinate
http://www.althist.com/alternate_american_civil_wars.htm Offers two alternate scenarios for the Civil War.
http://www.scifan.com/themes/themes.asp?TH_themeid=14 Lists six novels, all alternate Civil War histories. Harry Turtledove, The Guns of the South.
http://www.ahtg.net/alterframe.html The Alternate History Travel Guides. Lighthearted.
http://www.uchronia.net/ Uchronia, the “alternate history list.”
http://users.metro2000.net/~stabbott/AH.htm Another alternate history site.
Has a bibliography of “alternate history” texts. Summary of
essay by Milton Waldman, "If Booth had Missed Lincoln."
Assassination fails because Booth's gun misfired. Reviews a
about this question: how important was preserving the union?
any rate, it is clear that
Possibilities for compromise in 1860-61. Here J/H are pretty critical of
113: the war itself. Advances in technology made for massive deaths, more accurate muskets a big factor. Unconditional nationalism of both Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. Codes of military honor.
115 ff on Killing. Usually it’s possible, and standard practice, to dehumanize and/or demonize the enemy, to maintain that they’re not like us, not really human, don’t value life in the same way “we” do. This was more difficult in the Civil War, because it was a war among Americans.
116 on Dave Grossman’s research into the many who didn’t actually fire their weapons at all, or not at the enemy—as many as 80-85% (!)
http://www.killology.com/ On the “Killology” research group, more on Grossman and his book On Killing.
117 “militant Christian religion” and songs like “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The Holy War, again, the belief/hope in redemptive violence.
Race riots, charities, the development of a gun culture (120).
The aftermath and the transformation of memory, from horror to
glorious cause. Even
From his second inaugural address: http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres32.html
of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the
Chapter 6: “Revolution Derailed: Reconstruction.”
What’s our standard image of reconstruction? Carpetbaggers and scalawags trying to profit from the war, scandals and a mess, but At Least the Slaves Were Free? Merely “a rather embarrassing footnote,” as J/H say (123)?
124: “white dominion in the South was not undermined, but reformed and made more lasting and durable, by the violence of the Civil War and Reconstruction.”
The black “revitalization movement,” during and after the war.
Black soldiers, many killed or missing. The
Problems of land reform and economics, “40 acres and a mule.”
But neither northerners nor southerners really wanted to set blacks up as
equals on their own land. 129: “white-controlled wage-earning laborers.”
130: long interval between end of war and congress meeting. Johnson’s reconstruction, favorable to South, created white backlash. Congressional reconstruction was radical but unsuccessful, resisted in South by underground violence, KKK, lynchings, etc.
133: three groups, planter aristocracy, freed blacks, other whites; the “other south” allied eventually with the planters to repress blacks and institute control by white Democrats.
134-5 result was sharecropping, segregation, Jim Crow laws, essentially a new version of domination and exploitation without the legality of slavery.
135: might it have been different? The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa as a positive example. Again, who can say? 137: Truth telling, Restorative justice, Forgiveness and mercy.
I think that the book "The Missing Peace"
brings up some interesting viewpoints on what would have happened if things
would have been done differently when it comes to times of war. I
can honestly say that until I came to Bluffton I did not think much about
war or peaceful ways to deal with the conflicts that our country has with
others. I still don't feel that we can completely avoid war. Yes,
it is good to try to solve conflicts in a peaceful way as much as possible but
we also can't sit back and let another country take over and kill our
people. I am thankful for the people that do protect our country.
In the Civil War it would have been wonderful if the south would have
agreed to allow the slaves to go free peacefully, but in reality this would
probably not have happened. Even though I don't know that the Civil
War could have been done peacefully I am sure that in every war there are
things that could have been done in a better way to save more
lives. On page 115 the book says that "Lee
had serious doubts after
Shoulda. Coulda. Woulda. The way that I take this book is that it is just putting down political leaders that they thought made bad decisions in the past. The thing is that they were not there and they were not put in the same position as these men, so how can they sit back now that it is all been said and done and say this is the way they should have done it. I know that it is important that we look back at our history and try to learn from our mistakes, but I also think that it is wrong to slam men that helped found this nation and say what they did was a big mistake. I believe if you look at our society today that everything turned out alright and that we are the most powerful nation and we can support ourselves just fine. What Abraham Lincoln did as a leader was very important to the American way. He took a stand and said that the nation cannot be divided. He said it was important for us to stand together. The bible says in Mark Chapter 3 verse 24 “And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” I believe that President Lincoln believed this and knew that our nation would become weak if we let the Confederacy succeed from us. Abraham Lincoln was faced with a dispute that had been going on for years and he was the one that had to come up with some type of resolution. When our country was first founded this was an issue, but they chose to just ignore it and thought that eventually slavery would phase out. That did not occur though and I believe that the historians that say slavery would have eventually ended on its own are crazy.
I always have had an interest in the heroism placed on the Civil War. Here
we have a war that is not based on an outside terror or a specific "evil
person", but a war that is based on the terms of the people all living in
the same land. In a way when you think about it, it really was a big mess
just waiting to happen...so many ideas and perceptions all evolving in a
time when things lacked the needed structure and guidance, as well as a
strong sense of nationalism in which our nation has today…(not saying that
Heroism at the time was defined during this era as, “fight and die”. It
didn’t really matter if tried to stop a blockade peacefully, or that you
fully supported the ideas of some
of the great leaders (
Greeley), who had ideas and strategies for peaceful agreements. The idea of
a hero was basically this: if you killed and especially if you died…instant
hero. Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t classify myself as a total
pacifist, but what I would agree to would be to analyze other alternatives
before getting out the gun and blowing off you brother’s head. After reading the assigned chapters I found it interesting how different
churches played different roles and how doctrines changed and influenced
cretin aspects of the war. I also agree with the authors when they say that
the given knowledge of such events go on unacknowledged in our society…that
was an eye-opener to me especially since I went to a Christian school my
entire life and all I ever heard about the Civil War was the blood and guts,
brother against brother, the winners and the losers…never the different
roles of the churches. I think that so much of history is never taught
because it lacks that sense and romantic feelings of heroism, a perfect
example such are the words for the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. In short
I guess we all have our own meaning of heroism…to me, fighting to die and
even dieing to fight, is not just cause to solve an issue, especially when
other ways are always present.
the chapter it talked about other ways of solving the slavery issue in a
nonviolent way. The book gave the example they used was the 1990s
There were some interesting questions raised in these chapters about the Civil War, and some interesting statements as well. I am a pacifist, so there are some things that really strike me and that I really believe. There is one quote in the book by Horace Greeley about the American Civil War that states, “War is a hideous necessity at best and a civil conflict – a war of estranged and embittered fellow-countrymen - is the most hideous of all wars.” That statement really makes sense and I do think it is very sad that this nation had to fight itself to “resolve some problems”. It is hard for me to comprehend how people choose to go to war – I don’t understand how people can decide that the only resolution is by war. And I think that those who are opposed to war should not just ignore the problem, I think they need to become active in society as well, to try to impact the nation and the nation’s belief system. I thought one good illustration of the Civil War from the pacifist’s point of view was this: “The burned out fuel of the Civil War eventually was measured in piles of dead bodies, amputated limbs, grieving families, crushed human spirits, as well as the destruction of material resources – cities, fields, roads, homes, and churches.” I think it is important to realize the negative aspects of war. It leaves so much destruction that is right in front of us. War is made to seem so glamorous and brave. It says in this book that recruitment campaigns call men to “fight and die” instead of “kill” for the country. I understand that it must take a lot of courage to put your life aside and go engage in something so risky, but I do not see anything glamorous about it. What I get out of my Christian faith and my understandings of God and Jesus Christ totally clashes with the American idea of the war as appealing.
Something I found interesting was how some Christians during
the Civil War felt like that was a sign that Jesus was coming back. One
sentence really struck me, and it says this, “ Indeed,
- Erica Wiebe
Throughout chapter 5 there is a feeling that Juhnke and Hunter believe that
In the “Missing Piece” In chapter 5 the “Civil War” I felt that this chapter was very interesting, because it showed different views on how the war should have been and constructed in a non-violent way. After reading this part I felt that if we would have left the South alone and let them have their slaves that our country would have ended up like the middle east except fighting over the rights to free blacks. The story to me led on that we should have just let slavery happen and do nothing about it. I don’t know about anyone else, but if I were a slave I sure would want somebody fight to get me free. I don’t think that something’s were done right in the Civil War meaning all the fighting. I can see the other side of the views to. I also think that if we would have at least talked about it and like the Russians did when they abolished serfdom. The Civil could have easily been stopped. I just know that something had to have been done or it could have gotten really serious and could have split our country for good.
I know that many people say the reconstruction period was just as bad as the war and really it was. The south did not want to let the slaves go and when they did they tried to kill them. Most of the slaves talked back to their owners saying I don’t have to listen to you and they didn’t, but the master’s were very unhappy, because of this reconstruction period. Yes the union was saved, but really blacks have not been equal since then or even before. Look at today in 2003 blacks are still fighting against racism, look at the senator that made the racial comments he did, and stepped down from office. Blacks will never escape the agony of their skin color and fall into the trap of the white man racist. If blacks want to be completely free there has to be a black president to show society that we are all-equal and no matter if your black, red, yellow, brown whatever color you are. We are all Gods children and we need to see our peers and ourselves from the inside and what they stand for and believe in and not judge people, let God do that.
After reading this chapter in the book, I wasn't really sure what I thought
about what the authors were saying. I found it very interesting that they
kept describing the civil war as a war of brothers fighting brothers,
because although some people involved might have known each other at the
time, there wasn’t a “brotherly connection” between the people of the North
and the people of the South at
that time in history. I agree with
meaning of the war when he described it as a way to preserve the union and
free the slaves, because that is actually what it did. I do not understand
how the authors could have written that another interpretation could have
been that the war was not necessary or inevitable. The statement about
“wise” people making more timely decisions to eliminate slavery or to
compromise political differences and avoiding the civil war honestly seems
like a ridiculous suggestion to me. I feel that the war was indeed
necessary to get to where we are now, because there is no way to prove that
any “wise” person would have come along and come to the anti-slavery
decision by his own free will.
The two options given to avoid war were explained in a very interesting
way. The first option being “let them go in peace” was a very interesting
way to look into the Southern
states wanting to leave the
this approach might not have lead to the war taking place, it also didn’t
ensure that there wouldn’t have been another war later, between the states
that left he union and the Northern states. I believe that it made far more
sense to keep the union together, and fight for it, then to take the chance
of the secession and have to face the other problems that might come up
because of it.