Positively NON

Let all people live in peace. Let parents and children never be divided. Let us try dismissing our troops, melting down our swords. Let us direct our efforts towards giving rest to the aged; let children grow up, and all be joyous.

Your country lies far north; you will soon be suffering from the cold. I am having silk sent to you, and cotton; rice and wheat. We are now friends; our people are glad; you and I are now more than their protectors; we are the parents of our peoples.

Let us reflect that the sky covers us all equally, the earth makes no distinction in bearing us; we are all one family.

Our wish is, that the world should be at peace for ever. Thus would the fish swim more tranquilly, the birds fly more freely, while the insects would hum their gladness in the heart of the woods.

Dear friends,

I'm told the lines at left were writ by a Chinese emperor a hundred years before Christ--written to an enemy who had broken a treaty and invaded.

I thought the words an example to peacemakers, who in principle refuse to play enemy to one who names them enemy.

Non-enemies are hard to come by. Many friends, in jail and out, break a path in a mined earth, among thorns, at great cost. We kiss our hands to them.

We coin words that fail. The non-enemy is as unsatisfactory a tag for the heart of a friend as is nonviolence to encompass an embrace. Or an unbudging conscience.

All over the place people are learning non-budging. Non-induction, non-payment, non-consuming, non-violence, non-enmity. (Striking free of non-entity.)

All these nons. A greater yes!

Daniel Berrigan was a Sojourners contributing editor and a poet, priest, and peace activist when this article appeared.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Subscribe