Written 1212 pm Jan 31, 1991 by mideastdesk in cdpmideast.forum WAR IS THE DEATH OF CONSCI

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Written 12:12 pm Jan 31, 1991 by mideastdesk in cdp:mideast.forum WAR IS THE DEATH OF CONSCIENCE By Joel Preston Smith I believe that war is the death of conscience. I believe that only by refusing to practise my moral beliefs can I then kill another human being. I know that I cannot kill. My life, if it's to have any meaning, should be dedicated to ending suffering in the world, not protracting it. The prospect of being asked to kill in war is more threatening to me than the prospect of dying. My life will have no spirituality no foundation in principles if others have to die to support it. It was this belief that led me to become a vegetarian more than a year ago, and I am still struggling with my conscience. I've dedicated myself to preserving the lives of animals, and yet I work in an institution that is committed to killing people. I refuse to kill because killing is imnmoral. War is not immoral because some authority has passed a law saying war is immoral. It's not immoral because any religion has a code that says it's immoral. War is immoral because it intentionally increases human suffering. War willfully, consciously maims, tortures, and starves. War rapes the earth, driving its victims deeper into hunger and strife. War makes fear and grief and misery the whole habitation of human life. War doesn't end when the bombs stop falling or when the soldiers leave the battle- field. War leaves in its wake the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the dying, the widows and the orphans, and their bitterness--the seeds of another war. War sacrifices life for ideals. For all the things that we want in life: peace for ourselves and our children, the freedom to worship or even not worship as we choose, enough food and shelter to give us safety and a measure of comfort, we should not be willing to kill to get them. Most every person and every culture in the whole history of the world has wondered if there is some transcendental value to life. Some have settled on the answer and have transfigured their lives, and some reject the answer outright and live without morality or spirituality. But almost everyone searches. Few people can believe that this wonderful life they have been given ends in death and doesn't go beyond it. The search itself is one of the most important things we can do with our lives -- if in scarching, we demonstrate the character of that higher truth. I believe it is impossible to reach for a higher truth with bloody hands. There can be no sanctity, no morality, in a life dedicated to killing. War sacrifices life for ideals. Peace and morality make ideals sanctify life. Our nation outlaws the premeditated murder of a human beingQexcept when it may benefit the goverment, as in war. The government believes that killing for self-interest is immoral, but killing for the national interest is an honorable pastime. I believe the government, at the expense of the moral sanctity of its citizens, has given itself the express permission to suspend and institute morality at will. I cannot shape my conscience to fit the shifting morals of the government. No government has the right to make murderers of its citizens. No matter the reason, killing in war can never be justified. No ideal is more valuable than the human being who possesses it. No religion is more valuable than the human being who practices it. And no government is worth more than the life of a single human being whose responsibility it is to serve. None of these religion, philosophy, governmentQexist without human life to create and nurture them. Ideals can't have any value if we are willing to strangle our own conscience to support them. I can't kill to preserve liberty. I can't murder for justice. I can't gun someone down to preserve freedom. There is no liberty, or justice, or freedom in the mind of a murderer. There's no freedom either in the conscience of a man who is willing to sublimate his morals into violence. My morals have only as much vitality as the commitment I have to making them live not as ideals only, but as my physical self also. My conscience can have no life except I animate it and sanctify it through practice. The only ideals that have any vitaiity are those we won t sacrifice, no matter what the circumstances. The rightness in life is in giving your conscience life, in helping to preserve the lives of other living beings, not murdering them. My beliefs will not allow me to participate in war, nor support it in any form. War destroys the peace it seeks to create. War destroys peace where it is most difficult to find -- in our own minds. War destroys life and I am committed to preserving it. War puts conscience to the sword; even supporting the military in peacetime, in preparing others to kill, threatens the sanctity of my conscience. I can't practice morality if I serve in an institution that kills. War kills. It kills conscience and it kills people. I won't. ### The above statement is an excerpt from Joel P. Smith 's conscientious objector application. Smith is an active duty soldier assigned to the Presidio of San Francisco Army Base. He holds the rank of "specialist." To contact Joel Smith write P. 0. Box 29153, San Francisco, California 94129. For more information about conscientious objection contact the Central Committee For Conscientious Objectors at (415) 474-3002 or 1-800-86-NO WAR. Reproduced by American Friends Service Committee, 2160 Lake Street, San Francisco, California 94121. End of text from cdp:military.draft from PeaceNet via The NY Transfer 718-448-2358 & 718-448-2683 --- [ This file has travelled through the Socialism OnLine! BBS at +1-719-392-7781, 24 hours, 300-9600 bps HST/MNP/V42bis, on its way to you, the reader of this file. Please share any information you have about "big brother." 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