The United States is often depicted as a giant stew of people: a large mishmash of various heritages, backgrounds, and religions. How then could a tiny band of Roman Catholics affect an entire nation's opinion of the Vietnam War? The Vietnam War was a period of major unrest and public action in the United States. A large anti-war movement began, growing in momentum and power so quickly that students were actually killed during anti-war demonstrations. The anti-war sentiment of the American public could be attributed to many conflicting emotions: anger, resentment, sorrow. However, studying the pacifism of the Catholic Worker Movement as a microcosm of the American public reveals that the anti-war sentiment during the Vietnam War was a result of guilty responsibility.
[...] In Dorothy Day's autobiography and various Catholic Workers' interview, a feeling of guilt was revealed to be a driving force behind the formation of the Catholic Worker Movement. The Catholic Worker was later revealed in Klejment's essay to be a portion of the large American anti-war movement. This has elucidated the idea that the motivation behind the American public's anti-war movement during the Vietnam War was a guilty responsibility of the citizens, and this idea was supported by editorials, editorial cartoons, and letters to the editor in newspapers at the time. [...]
[...] In Klejment and Roberts's essay, Catholic Worker and the Vietnam a long description of the Catholic Worker's stance on issues is given, followed by a history of the various forms of non-violent protests held during the Vietnam War and their relation to Catholic Workers. Catholic Worker protests against the Vietnam War included picketing the “residence of the Vietnamese observer to the United Nations,” signing a “complicity statement, which committed signers to refuse cooperation with the U.S. government's efforts in Vietnam,” burning draft cards, raiding draft boards, and encouraging people to resist war taxes by living in poverty. Throughout the entire war, the Catholic Worker newspaper continued to be printed and distributed, which included articles by Day and others encouraging pacifism. [...]
[...] Because the motivation to join the Catholic Worker Movement was fueled by guilty responsibility, and the Catholic Worker Movement valued each of its ideals on an equal platform, and pacifism during the Vietnam War was one of those ideals, it can be concluded that the actions taken by Catholic Workers to stop the Vietnam War were motivated by a guilty responsibility. The Catholic Workers were not the only ones to participate in peaceful demonstrations as a means to end the Vietnam War. [...]
[...] He compares this unusual outcome of the war to the formerly predominant self-image of Americans by finishing, past crises Americans have usually proved themselves a generous and large- spirited people Americans have bred a tradition of compassion, idealism and open-handedness.” This self-image of the American people is very similar to the image that Catholic Workers had of themselves—one of generosity and compassion. Because the American public and the Catholic Workers had the same self-image, and both protested the Vietnam War vehemently, it can be concluded that both were motivated by the same sentiment: guilt. In one letter to the editor of The Washington Post written in 1973, a captain of the U.S. Army Medical Corps served in Vietnam expresses his guilt and revulsion for the war. [...]
[...] But as historian Charles Chatfield observed, antiwar movement did not end the war: the American people did that by withdrawing passive support for it.'” Because the pacifism of the Catholic Worker Movement during the Vietnam War has been defined as a small portion of the overall dissent of the American people, the Catholic Workers can be used as a microcosm that represents, or at least strongly resembles, the American people as a whole. Therefore, because the motivation for the Catholic Workers' opposition to the Vietnam War has already been determined to be guilty responsibility, the general public's motivation must also be guilty responsibility. [...]
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