New York Times correspondent
April 1, 1971
Vietnam is just a confirmation of everything we feared might happen in life. And it has happened. You know, a lot of people in Vietnam-and I might be one of them-could be mourners as a profession. Morticians and mourners. It draws people who are seeking confirmation of tragedies....
Once I got so desperate-the Americans had started bombing Hanoi- I ran to the National Press Center where they give the briefings...a forty-year-old woman running through the streets in the middle of the night...and I wrote on the wall in Magic Marker, Father, forgive. They know not what they do. And I don't even believe in God. Who is Father? Father, forgive, they know not what they do. But there were no other words in the whole English language.
If they found out it was me they would have sent me home. New York Times correspondents must not go running around at two o'clock in the morning writing, Father, forgive, they know not what they do. But afterward I thought how there's no way...no one, no one to whom you can say we're sorry.
War Resisters League
New York City
September 10, 1969
If you're gonna live in a city, you're gonna pass alcoholics by on the street. Or else you don't get to work. But that is to be brutalized and...it doesn't excuse what you've just done. That you've passed by someone lying in the gutter.... You know what I mean?... I have the feeling...that I really ought not to lock my door. But if I didn't, then I wouldn't have anything in the apartment, and I know I can't function on that level. Personally. So that is the function of this city. That we lock ourselves in at night. We're all...we're all...voluntary jailers. It's really a very frightening thing we do. We have bars on the windows. I do, too. This is a very difficult problem for somebody who really would prefer...not to have his door locked.
I'll tell you when I gave up the whole business of trying to be saintly was way back when I was working...at the end of college...at a hot dog stand. I was living in Ocean Park, California, and I thought I would keep on working...you know, half the week at the hot dog stand and the other half, be radical. And I had just enough money to pay the rent. I didn't drink at the time. All I had was Seven-Ups and ginger ale in the refrigerator. And I'd come home and it would be gone. Because friends would drop in and drink them. So I left a note saying, you know..."I don't mind if you take these, but please...you know, I don't have any money. Leave a dime if you're gonna take them." So people would do that. And I would get home and there would be dimes and I'd be thirsty and there'd be no Seven-Up and I got pissed off about it and I said, "Look, if you want to take these...I come home tired and it's late at night and the store's closed" (I got home at three o'clock in the morning)..."drink it if you want. But replace it. Because one of us has to walk three blocks and it might as well be you as me. It's my refrigerator."
At about that point, I realized that poverty wasn't for me. If I was starting to write notes about how to deal with Seven-Up. So I left and got a job digging ditches, which paid me seventy dollars a week or something, and I could afford to buy whole cases of Seven-Up.
See, if when you don't have money, you start to daydream about it-which I do-then you better have a little money. If I don't have money, if I'm broke, I really start to daydream about having a vast fortune. I stop daydreaming about it if I have just enough to buy the Scotch...to have good food. Then I'm perfectly satisfied not to think about it. But I think that the...the problem is that you're always drawn to that image of...of uh...the teachings of Buddha. Abandonment. Nonpossession. Since you're all gonna die anyway. I think the real trick is to find out where you are without excusing where you are. Leaving yourself open to the fact that...you might become better than you are.