“Buddhists and Martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement”

Joint statement by Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thich Nhat Hanh, International Committee of Conscience on Vietnam

NYACK, NEW YORK, May 31, 1966

We believe that the Buddhists who have sacrificed themselves, like the martyrs of the civil rights movement, do not aim at the injury of the oppressors but only at changing their policies. The enemies of those struggling for freedom and democracy are not man. They are discrimination, dictatorship, greed, hatred and violence, which lie within the heart of man. These are the real enemies of man—not man himself.

We also believe that the struggles for equality and freedom in Birmingham, Selma and Chicago, as in Hue, Danang and Saigon, are aimed not at the domination of one people by another. They are aimed at self-determination, peaceful social change, and a better life for all human beings. And we believe that only in a world of peace can the work of construction, of building good societies everywhere, go forward.

We join in the plea, written June 1, 1965, by Thich Nhat Hanh in a letter to Martin Luther King, Jr., “Do not kill man, even in man’s name. Please kill the real enemies of man which are present everywhere, in our very hearts and minds.”

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Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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