Ammon Hennacy tells this story of an incident which occured in the 1930s
when he was a social worker in Milwaukee.
He had gone to the home of a man who was on relief,
and the man pulled a knife on Ammon......He would prance around and swing his fist at me to frighten me and breathe down the back of my neck and tickle me with the point of his knife. I was not frightened for I had learned in solitary not to be afraid of anything. He threatened me on for nearly an hour. I did not answer back a word nor hang my head but looked him in the eye. Finally he came after me more energetically than before and said that I had to do something.I got up and said, "i will do something, but not what you think." I reached out my hand in a friendly manner saying, "You are all right but you forget about it. I am not afraid of that false face you have on. I see the good man inside. If you want to knife me or knock me cold, go ahead. I won't hit you back; go ahead. I dare you!" But I didn't double dare him......he shook my hand, and with the other hand was making passes to hit me in the face. I did not say anything more. Slowly his grip loosened and he went to the door and opening it, pulled up the blind and put the knife away."What I don't see is why you don't hit back.""What is your strongest weapon? It is your big fist with a big knife. What is my weakest weapon? It is a little fist without a knife. What is my strongest weapon? It is the fact that I do not get excited; I do not boil over; some people call it spiritual power. What is your weakest weapon? It is your getting excited and boiling over and your lack of spiritual power. I would be dumb if I used my weakest weapon, my small fist without a knife, against your strongest weapon, your large fist with a knife. I am smart, so I use my strongest weapon, my quiet spiritual power against your weakest weapon, your excited manner, and I won, didn't I?"...
"That's just what I want you to see," I answered.
"Explain it." He demanded."
...if I had told him, "Don't hit or knife this good Christian anarchist who returns good for evil..." he would have laughed at me. When I showed no fear and dared him to do me up, it woke him up to the reality and took his mind off his meanness. The good was in him the same as it was in the warden and the District Attorney, but it had to be brought out by the warmth of love which I showed, and not by the blustering wind which provoked only more bluster...."...and when do I go to court?"When I left the house my knees were shaking from the strain although I had not wavered a bit all along.
"You won't go to court. I don't believe in courts; you have learned your lesson."
Ammon, Dorothy, & one of Dorothy's kin.
In support of two convicted murderers, Ammon Hennacy was daily picketing at the Utah State Capitol. On Thursday, 8 January 1970, Hennacy had a heart attack on his way to picket against the state's intent to commit capital punishment. On 11 January, 1970 Ammon dictated this public message to his spouse, Joan Thomas:
...Some day Christians of this state and other states
will not take upon them the vengeance of the Old Testament God,
but will do as Christ and Gandhi said to do:
RETURN GOOD FOR EVIL.
I have been picketing and saying this
for the last nine years in Salt Lake City,
and will continue to do so as long as I live.
...Ammon died three days later.
Gathered in Cincinnati, OH--Easter Season 1949, are
(L-R) Rose Hennacy, Dan Kutchongva, Ammon Hennacy, Thomas Banyacya, Joe Craigmyle & Ms. Hennacy.
from the leaflet entitled:
"WE HAVE THE KIND OF WORLD WE DESERVE!
WHAT ARE WE DOING TO DESERVE A BETTER ONE?"
I am fasting these six days as a penance for being a part of the civilization that threw the Atom Bomb at Hiroshima just six years ago, and continues to make bombs...and wars.
And I am picketing, frankly, because I know of no better way to start you thinking on this matter.Our neighbors, the traditional Hopi Indians of Arizona, have not had to change their way of life, for they have had the true way all along !The white man has stolen their lands, "plowed under" their sheep and cattle, and now this conqueror has told them that the 13th day of August is the deadline when their time will be up to claim theri rights to their tribal lands! The Hopi do not recognize the right of the white man to be both judge and jury, for they are a self-supporting, sovereign people who have lived in Arizona for a thousand years without laws, courts, jails or murders. They have never made a treaty with the United States. The Indian Bureau has bribed some Hopi and has made Tribal Council stooges of them. Missionaries who have upheld this wicked government have taught them the white man's watered-down religion. The government has drafted Hopi to fight and die in far-away lands. All this is wrong and shameful, and we should have no part of it -- not even by paying our income taxes to support such fraud.
What can we do?We can rely upon ourselves rather than upon the government...
We can rely upon God rather than upon the dizzy plans of dizzy politicians...
We can work for a living instead of being parasites...
We can refuse to make munitions, to buy war bonds, to register for the draft, or to pay income taxes.
Government bribes, medals, and subsidies ar trash compared to the peace of mind, love of neighbor, and "Thy Kingdom Come" for which we pray... We sense the illusion of violence, but still cling to the illusion of wealth... We need not sow the wind and reap the whirlwind... We can begin to be men instead of pipsqueaks... The spirit of the True Pioneers shall yet defeat the bureaucrats!
Ammon A. Hennacy Phoenix, Arizona August 6 to 11, 1951
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN
may be found in the fifth chapter of Daniel and signifies
"God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it... Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting..."
At the time of the first nuclear explosion ever (near Socorro & Alamogordo, New Mexico)
no civilian knew what it was.
Ammon had been hanging around with the Indigenous people of the Isleta Pueblo at that time (Summer 1945).
Upon realization of the significance of that previous July's strange spectacle, he expressed the following...
They mock you.
Fire to glow on the hearth,
Warmth to open the heart of the Holy Corn,
Warmth to melt the snow on White Mountain.
Giving water for our crops, our animals.
This, Sun-Father, is good.
Great fire to kill
I kill my enemy with my own two hands
Or he kills me.
That is brave.
To burn and blast every man,
Every woman and child,
All animals and birds,
All corn and grass,
That is cowardly and wicked.
They steal your brightness
They mock you.
from the leaflet entitled:
"THOU SHALT NOT KILL but 83% of Our Federal Income Tax Goes for War and Killing"
....I report my earnings each year but refuse to pay my tax.
I am not doing this to embarass or coerce government officials, but to awaken those timid ones who perhaps may know better but who pay income taxes for war.... I do this as a Roman Catholic , a daily communicant who believes in penance for, not only my own sins, but for the social sin of war of which we are all more or less guilty. I do this as a pacifist, as one who refused to register for the draft in both World Wars, who believes like 'Gandhi in nonviolent resistence to evil. I do this as an anarchist like Tolstoy and Thoreau who do not believe in government of man by man, but in government of man by God, and the understanding of The Sermon on the Mount.
I have worked as a migrant worker and at odd jobs where no withholding tax is taken out of my pay; also lecturing in churches and colleges and writing aritlces and books. After my daughters graduated from University I gave my earnings to help feed the poor near the Bowery in New York City. This winter I will open a House of Hospitality here in Salt Lake City to feed those hungery who come to us. There will be no "singing for your supper." No questions or prayers forced upon anyone. We call our place Joe Hill House of Hospitality and St. Joseph Refuge ....
Ammon Hennacy Salt Lake City, Utah August 6 to 21, 1961
I have considered my response to whether or not I am an anarchist or a Catholic first. I now offer the following thoughts.
- to be an anarchist-pacifist and oppose as much as I can all war and violence and the state, which lives by these methods;
- to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, outside any church;
- to seek to understand and to love my enemy;
- not to expect to make the world see this now, but to continue my one-man revolution, no matter what the result is to me personally;
- to help the poor, especially the transients, for this is where the state leaves off and the anarchist begins;
- not to smoke, drink, eat meat, or take medicine and to approximate the life of the poor among whom I live.
- I recently married out of the church, so in addition my personal emphasis is
- to make my wife, Joan, happy and help her and myself to grow in every way;
- to continue to be awake enough to oppose war and exploitation in this crazy world and not to chicken out;
- to search for more truth as to what is best for myself and the world.