I Don’t Believe In Violence

by Larry Long
posted with his permission

Dr. Martin Luther King gave a speech back in 1967 entitled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence” He talked about “a society gone mad on war.” He warned “that America would never invest the necessary funds” to end poverty “so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.”

This speech brought me back to January of 1991. I had 7th grade students from Stillwater, Minnesota read that same speech and other writings by Dr. King, in preparation to collectively write a song in his honor to be performed for an all school celebration, such as the one we are having today at the Ted Mann theatre.

This collective songwriting process began on January 18th, 1991, three days after Dr. King’s birthday. It was a difficult day, though, for all of us.

We were all stunned and tired from staying up late into the morning, glued to the television set, watching the first bombs fall live down upon the capitol city of Iraq, Baghdad. The first Gulf War, known as Operation Desert Storm, had just begun.

To break the silence, I simply asked the children, what do you think Dr. King would have to say about what we all just witnessed on television.

This is what we wrote:

I Don’t Believe In Violence

If someone strikes I won’t strike back
If the strike again I will not attack
I’d rather talk then hear bones crack
I don’t believe in violence

Streets are filled with gang warfare
Some people don’t mind, they just don’t care
When children get killed, it’s never fair
I don’t believe in violence

Talk of war in the news
Iraq, Syria, Israel, Palestine, too
It all comes back to me and you
I don’t believe in violence

Nuclear missiles and Tomcats
Stealth bombers and poison gas
Oil spills and M-1 tanks
I don’t believe in violence

Jumping off buildings just like flies
Killing machines, don’t believe my eyes
Late at night I can hear them cry
I don’t believe in violence

Women are scared at night
There’s abduction, rape, filled with fright
Keep on running until you find the light
I don’t believe in violence

People living in landlord shacks
Keeping warm by burning trash
In need of food, they steal for cash
I don’t believe in violence

Martin said, “Do not kill.”
I don’t want dead bodies in landfills
Committing violence is not God’s will
I don’t believe in violence

© Larry Long Publishing 1991 / BMI

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