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Dorothy Day: Catholic Workers and the Vietnam War

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  1. Introduction
  2. The founder of the Catholic Worker Movement
  3. A poetic overview of her experience as a Catholic Worker
  4. Catholic Worker Movement not centered around camaraderie and hospitality for the poverty-stricken people of America
  5. Interview with Joe Zarrella: Emphasis on one of the ideals over the other of the Catholic Worker Movement
  6. Examples of dissent of the American public in regard to the Vietnam War
  7. Guilt and revulsion for the war
  8. Conclusions
  9. References

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.[7] Throughout the entire war, the Catholic Worker newspaper continued to be printed and distributed, which included articles by Day and others encouraging pacifism. [...]

[...] Day sets the mood for the idea of guilt from the very first word of her autobiography; her introduction is entitled ?Confession.?[1] Her first sentence describes the feeling of going to confession on a hot summer night,[2] revealing that she means ?confession? not in the sense of a personal confession to the reader, but rather in the sense of the Catholic Sacrament of Confession, which involves a sinner feeling guilty for his sins and begging God for forgiveness. In this way, Day begins the description of her entire life with the idea of guilt and responsibility. [...]

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