Pendle Hill Pamphlet 118, 1961
Visible Witness: A Testimony for Radical Peace Action BookedPDF
Wilmer J. Young

"On July 6, 1959, I found myself in jail in Omaha, Nebraska. Having lived for over seventy years without ever being in jail before, I have been asked to explain." So Wilmer Young introduces this pamphlet, an account of his peace action, and a statement of his faith. In a letter to his sentencing judge, Wilmer attests that "My one desire in this time is to make a maximum protest against the unnecessary descent of mankind into oblivion. I believe that, at the present time and under the circumstances of today, this protest requires me to spend this time in prison... The processes of education, of speaking, of conferences, of writing, alone, seem likely to be 'too little and too late.' There come times in history when action is essential to break through the hard crust of inertia and custom."

In particular Wilmer Young observes: "Except for tax refusal, [we] have no direct way of refusing to play any part in the war system; even tax refusal is difficult to make clear as a rational witness. And unless the refuser implements his refusal with further civil disobedience, it is an invisible witness, all done out of sight; it may clear one's conscience, but does little to communicate with others or convince them."

Certainly there are risks and dangers. In this pamphlet Wilmer Young addresses those directly, and at the end, hopes that "There is some way for each of us to stand up and be counted against the madness that has already all but brought the final disaster on mankind: to stand up and be counted for a world in which all men can live as brothers, the sons of one Father."