During the Maryknoll peace education efforts in the 1980’s, I offered a slide show entitled “HOSTAGES IN HELL’S BOTTOM.” The show was researched and prepared by the Packard Manse Ecumenical Center in Stoughton, MA, a retreat center visited by Thomas Merton, Daniel Berrigan and other untiring pacifists.
The White House was located in Washington’s “Foggy Bottom” while the WWII creation called the Pentagon was based in Hell’s Bottom. Research indicates the War Dept. wanted to build the mighty Pentagon quickly in order to get on with the urgency of defeating Hitler and the Third Reichs’ global designs for domination. After Hitler’s demise, the huge building would be converted into a center for healing with large, wide hallways serving as ramparts for moving hospital beds.
The medical conversion did not occur. The Pentagon now is one of the largest buildings in the USA where 23,000 military and civilian personnel scurry about or peck away at computers in the six million square feet headquarters of the Defense Department.
Benjamin Whorf was a linguist who introduced the “Whorfian Hypothesis.” If we change our language, then we can change the minds of people. After the defeat of Germany and Japan, US citizens were tired of warfare. The 1945 “War Department” was craftily changed to the “Defense Department,” something everyone wants in dangerous times.
The Berrigan brothers were prophetic leaders in the peace momentum. They followed an example of Gandhi, who read Jesus’ Beatitudes (Matthew V or Luke VI) every day. Like the uncertain number of arrests that their peace movement has endured, similarly could the Berrigans not enumerate their Pentagon visits.
Daniel was often asked about his opinion on the Pentagon where he was a frequent visitor.
In one acerbic response Daniel responded: “It is the biggest insane asylum in the world.”
Within the walls of a 6 million square feet building, thousands of narcotized workers go about “defending American interests” globally.
The 6.9 million square feet Palazzo building in Las Vegas is a larger structure where visitors are pursuing pleasure and profit through gambling. Millions who flock to Las Vegas for La Dolce Vita are unaware that Lake Mead provides 90% of their water, a source that might be exhausted within one decade.
85% of 7 billion live in the driest parts of Earth. Are Pentagon planners prepared for forthcoming water wars? In the world’s largest insane asylum are worker bees more occupied with spending one trillion dollars “improving” nuclear weapons over the next three decades rather than devising a sane energy program for the planet?