I think of the children who will never know, intuitively, that a flower is a plant’s way of making love, or what silence sounds like, or that trees breathe out what we breathe in.
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Philip Berrigan was a Catholic priest and antiwar activist. He protested the Vietnam War, cofounded the Plowshares disarmament movement, and spent many years in prison for acts of civil disobedience. He and his wife, Elizabeth McAlister, founded Jonah House, an intentional community of activists in Baltimore, Maryland. He died there in December 2002.
Vietnam, we discovered, was not only a war on people. It was a war on the very meaning of human communication. Manipulating language was just one more means to achieve their nefarious end. Words were merely rhetorical devices, as expendable as eighteen-year-old American boys, as destructible as the Vietnamese people.