Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Thoughts on Violence Pt. 3: Why I Can't (Willingly) Serve
People who have known me for a while might remember just four years ago when I was convinced it was my solemn duty to serve in the military. These days I'm thanking God that I didn't get in when I tried (and tried again and again). I want to make it clear that I am not writing this to pass judgment on anyone else who serves, has served, or wants to serve. I am writing this to express my belief of why I cannot in good conscience serve in the military.
Since this blog entry is a part of a series on my thoughts about violence, I will suspend my criticisms of patriotism and focus specifically on the military specifically. The military is a force of individuals who do the bidding of their leader, but in America that is said to be for the sake of protecting the country. Now, what is required of an individual who serves in the military? There are a lot of little things (which add up to some big things) that I cannot talk about as an individual on the outside looking in, but I know a few more commonly understood things such as injuring or killing enemy combatants. This is obviously not all there is to military service, as I understand it there are four support staff working at desks for every military service member on the field. This says nothing of the kind of training one has to receive in order to be able to kill and kill efficiently without being killed.
But when I think about all the destruction that wars have brought I know I could not be a part of that, regardless of who is "right" or "wrong". I cannot be a part of an organization designed specifically for destroying life. Matthew 26:52 tells us of how Jesus handled a situation of violence and said the famous words, "They that live by the sword will die by the sword". Were it to come down to a draft, I would be a conscientious objector and the only reason I can see joining is to maneuver myself into a position that would not require me to kill anyone. I don't think I would flee the country, in part because I believe that that is not a very good solution. It puts me at odds with two countries. There are much more respectful and honest ways of taking a stand for peace and the value of life. The exception would be if there was a way to leave the country legitimately. When taking a stand for moral justice, one must be careful to abide by as many laws as possible so as to not tarnish justice with irrational haste.
Peace that surpasses all understanding,
Image source: "Want You to Stop War" on Minti