Postcards from Oblivion: A Pacifist’s Reflections On Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”

Dear Friend,

I don’t know if I am writing to someone who thinks war is okay or if I am writing to someone who hates war as much as I do.  Please forgive me for holding a different point of view if nonviolence and ahimsa are not your preferred path. What follows is a collection of five postcards. They represent an attempt to read and understand Martin Luther King’s, ” Letter From the Birmingham Jail.” I found a copy of Martin’s letter here:

I wrote about what MLKjr might say today, to today’s peace activists, based upon what he wrote in his Letter. I wrote under divine guidance and claim no credit for any original ideas!


In M.L.King jr.’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail, he rebuked white clergy who urged him to not protest ‘at this time’. I imagine MLK would write a similar letter to war apologists within the Washington DC ‘beltway bubble’ club. When accused that he does not  know what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, he might write that,— thanks to leaked documents, he knows a lot. When accused that he is helping America’s enemies, he might write that by killing Iraqis and Afghanis at checkpoints, in air attacks, in night raids, and through Predator drone attacks, Americans are making more and more enemies.  =Stay Strong=

Postcard #2 (photo of M.L. King meeting with an unhappy, President Johnson)

MLKjr. wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail that his critics were wrong to fault his ‘direct action’ demonstrations and to ask for ‘negotiations’. MlKJr. might defend today’s peace protestors and ask what other alternative to violent rebellion against tyranny exists? If not peaceful protests? He might point out that elections, peace petitions, & lobbying politicians failed in 2006, 2008, and 2010 elections. Politicians who promised to end the wars broke their promises. Petitions, lobbying, electioneering became symbols of impotence. Peaceful protest is all that is left other than violent revolution. ==Stay Strong==

Postcard #3 (Photo of March on Washington, 1963)

Critics accused MLK jr. of breaking the law. In Letter from Birmingham Jail, MLK jr. replied that there are JUST and UNJUST laws. Just laws unite; unjust laws divide. By breaking an unjust law MLK jr. expressed a high respect for laws and justice. Today, MLK jr. might support Servicemen who refuse to participate in war. Those who refuse to deploy and kill are actually respecting higher laws, respect for the sanctity of LIFE and for nonviolence. MLKjr. might even ask, “If everyone refused to go to war, wouldn’t PEACE be inescapable?” =STAY STRONG=

Postcard #4 (Photo of King giving a lecture at a podium)

In Letter From Birmingham Jail, MLKjr responded to the criticism that his nonviolent direct actions such as prayer vigils and marches, were ‘extreme’. He condemned white clergy for their inaction, opposition, and for defaming his work. He protested that his positive program of love in response to segregation was a good alternative to 1. complacency, and 2. black nationalist violence. Today, MLKjr. would condemn the churches’ silence about war. He would condemn their failure to claim the moral basis for peace; that life is sacred; that violence leads to more violence. He would assert that killing is not only illegal. It is morally wrong. =Stay Strong=

Postcard #5:  (with photo from I have a Dream speech, 28 August 1963. Wash’,D.C.)

In Letter From The Birmingham Jail, MLKjr. praised clergy who ‘broke loose’ from ‘conformity’ to join him in sit-ins, marches & jail. He said, “They have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.” He compared them to ‘spiritual salt’. To renewed hope. If MLKjr was praising today’s peace activists, he might commend veterans, who seeing war, decided to oppose it. He might praise those who had changed their minds about “Just Wars”. He might commend world leaders who are not seduced by new wars disguised as “humanitarian interventions”. =Stay Strong=

Postcard#6  “I Am A Man”

(All of the photographs which are referred to here, are available at Wikipedia under the Martin Luther King Jr. biographical page. )

Many thanks to you, my brave ‘friend’.  You sacrificed your life and freedom so that we could learn the truth about war.

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One Response to Postcards from Oblivion: A Pacifist’s Reflections On Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”

  1. Hi–I’ve been wanting to post some art of protest on my blog, but have not found much being done. Would you like to collaborate? If so, my idea is that I might post some of your art along with a description of your experiences of presenting at a peace vigils. If such an idea interests you, you can contact me at I guess my comment will automatically leave a link to my blog . . ..

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