ca, United States - 2011-06-21
I am an enlisted marine and I am a conscientious objector.
Pamela S Hawkins
New York, United States - 2011-03-27
I, Pamela Susan Hawkins, am writing to make known my Conscientious Objection to participation in war, including paying for war and preparation for war. I also object to being drafted to pay taxes and wish to call the Draft Board to make my conviction public. The principles that guide my life are that all people have value, all people deserve the opportunity to make change, and non-violence is at the core of love. Organized violence is against my Conscience and beliefs.
I was raised in a Christian home, taught the ten commandments and encouraged to live through sharing support and love. The commandments of "though shall not kill" and "love thy neighbor" are a solid basis for believing war is not the answer. Over and over, we consistently see that violence only begets more violence. We cannot create solutions and new ways to love each other if we are willing to take someone"s life.
In my youth, I saw the war machine take more lives under the guise of helping others. In caring for others we could have used these funds to grow food, build hospitals, schools, roads, record stories, inspiring peace. I thought that God (Spirit or Universe, as I call it today) had abandoned us and that humanity would surely kill itself and the planet in the process. I dealt with it through addiction, denial, and fear. The media played its role in propagating public paranoia and distorting patriotism to wield weapons. Corporations grabbed on tighter to the war system to fill greedy pockets and power. I hid under the rock of alcoholism until destroying myself, was no longer a solution either. Walking towards inner peace has meant standing up for creativity, voice, opportunity and community. To be fully functional means not bowing to fear, media trauma, political and pulpit directives to fight for good versus evil. It means believing with all my heart that there is that of God/Good in everyone.
In sitting with Quakers over the past 7 years, the basic tenants of simplicity, equality, honesty and peace ring true for me. Practicing simplicity is about paying attention, minimizing waste, sharing respect and resources. It is not about purposeful destruction of the land and life. To engage equality, we must actively listen, acknowledge difference, standing for truth(s) with out bludgeoning one another, honoring our connectedness. To live honesty requires cultivating humility, love of self and others, and a willingness to admit when we are wrong. Peace is not just the dictionary definition "calm", but an action word, full of transcendence, forgiveness, hospitality, prayer, dance, song, and conflict resolution. Peace is not passive or martyrdom. It is a living verb, leaning us into rooted love and radiant hope, holy creativity.
My personal service work includes making art, peace activism, addiction recovery, growing and sharing food, healing circles and working with populations with various brain capacities, insights and injuries. Historically, as Co-Director Evolutionary Girls Club (EGC), I collaboratively organized, exhibited, and published arts dealing with the issues of inclusiveness, access, and privilege world-wide. Later, while in Aceh, Indonesia with Conscience Studios (2006) to document the development of pre-schools and Alternative to Violence Project (AVP) workshops, I trained to be a AVP facilitator. AVP offers experiential workshops to empower individuals to liberate themselves and others from the burden of violence in all its forms and manifestations. Since then I have facilitated and participated in over 25 Workshops with Conscience Studios in Alfred, NY; Quakers in Rochester, NY; at Groveland Prison in Sonyea, NY; and at the AVP USA conference in NJ. I currently coordinate and facilitate AVP workshops in Rochester, NY.
Having walked in war and trauma zones in Aceh, Indonesia and in my own community, our culture keeps becoming more visible - exposing the debilitating effects of war, violence, polution and injustice. In these places I have also experienced the transforming power of practicing peace through affirmation, communication, cooperation, and conflict resolution. The following 2006 New York Yearly Meeting Quaker minute helps me to tend my Conscience. "The Living Spirit works in the world to bring life, joy, peace and prosperity through love, integrity and compassionate justice for among people. We are united in this Power. We acknowledge that paying for War violates our religious conviction. We will witness to this conviction in each of our communities." I DO want to pay my taxes, but my belief that all people are valuable, makes it concrete that paying taxes for war is a criminal act. I wish to pay taxes for humanitarian and ecological efforts "" local organic food production, health care, sustainable resources, non-polluting energy sources, education, clean technologies, justice, and community making.
As a media artist I am producing tapes addressing Conscience. I chose to enter the field of cinema because I have been mediated, manipulated and manufactured by mass media. I wanted to become more clear about and critical of these systems of control. We are a country run not by democracy, but by a corporate capitalism that makes use of killing for profit, a spectacle of violence with the look of a video game. We are not shown death, war, or any of its oppressive realities. I rarely watch TV and do not play video games or other games that promote war and divide people into win/lose, alive/dead, right/wrong. Instead my living and employment are in direct human care and education. I endeavor to create collective environments, where people are encouraged to speak, question and contribute to everyone"s well-being. My classrooms are safe, multi-vocal, and energized. Together with friends, colleagues, clients, students, and community, we walk through conflict toward peace.
I am willing to continue doing my part as a civic citizen, carrying out building local and international friendships across race, gender, class, age and ideologies. I joyously offer my time, tax dollars and love to nurture connecting through non-violent means.
Sarah C Rozard
OHIO, United States - 2011-03-25
I am conscientiously opposed to war, to the military that organizes and prepares for war, and to supporting or condoning war through any other mechanisms, to name a few: taxes, purchasing with certain corporations, divisive thinking, believing in redemptive violence, or believing in any other form of violence. I seek to have Spirit, integrity, faith, prayer, love, and simplicity guide my life. When I listen to the Spirit, when I am open to my faith and my prayer, I know that peaceful relations is what I need as a human, and what we need as communities and states. I have found that treating people lovingly and with respect builds trust, and that trust leads to cooperation. My understanding of war is of harming, torturing, threatening, intimidating, dictating or killing other people by a political entity for political ends. I have never found the living Spirit, growth, rebirth, or anything life affirming in any form of violence.
I grew up in the Religious Society of Friends, and am still an active member of my monthly meeting in Western New York State, Alfred Monthly Meeting. In Tallahassee Monthly Meeting, the Meeting I grew up in with roughly 30 adult members, I looked up to each individual, and saw my community build itself stronger by resolving conflicts with truthful and compassionate listening and communicating; this influenced the beliefs I have today about conflict resolution and war. Growing up in the Religious Society of Friends the conversation of right and wrong, of conscience, and of war was a part of my understanding of the world. War has always been real to me. I have traveled back and forth to Indonesia my entire life, and bombs and internal conflicts exist there; Everyday we drove on this one road and one day we took another road. It turned out that the day before there had been a bomb destroying one point on the road. One time we could not go to a movie because of riots downtown, later we learned the rioters had burned many of the buildings in the downtown area. Another reality of war for me was my grandfather was in the Indonesian military during World War II seeking independence from Dutch occupation and I know that he brought his experiences of violence from the war into his home and then my father brought that violence from his childhood into my childhood. Through my understandings and experiences I know that war does nothing to create true resolution, that war only creates more violence that lives on and reproduces long after the war is over.
My daily actions are completely influenced by the objection of my conscience to war. My major in college is Peace Studies. I volunteer 4 hours a week with a group called the Conscience Studio whose focus is the issue of and issues surrounding CO status. I facilitate Alternatives to Violence Workshops in my town, Alfred, in a nearby prison, Groveland, and in a former war zone, Aceh, Indonesia. I educate others I know about my views about war and why I hold them. Regularly throughout the year I attend rallies, vigils, and protests that oppose war. I continue to be active in my Quaker faith and to learn and grow more with my dedicated historic peace church community. When I can I consistently buy anything I need from local and ethical businesses in order to not contribute any money on the multi-billion dollar businesses that are a major financial player in the system that supports and is supported by war. I seek to be loving and honest with all the people with whom I interact because I know that no one is an enemy. I do not pay federal taxes in order not to contribute any money on military spending. My long term goals in life include, remaining life affirming, being able to forgive, listening to and acting on what my conscience tells me, having discipline, not abusing any harmful substances, being full of grace, and listening to my loved ones.
Alfred, New York USA
Jens J Braun
NY, United States - 2011-02-04
Statement of Conscience
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice/righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
If I taught my children to unthinkingly follow orders rather than considering what is right or wrong, to follow the crowd, to depend on external symbols for their self-respect and self-worth, would you call me a good father?
If I approved of my daughter and sons going to distant places where they killed men, women and children whom they did not know and with whom they had no quarrel, because men and women of political power, with whose policies I strongly disagree, asked them to, would you call me patriotic?
If I helped finance unprovoked death and destruction here at home, would I not quickly be put away for life? Yet if I do not help finance unprovoked death and destruction abroad, why does the government then have a right to come take my money for these purposes without my consent?
If I know that non-violence has brought about more effective democracy and has proven to be a far superior agent of social change during the last half century than has any armed conflict during the period, why should I support war? And if it is said that a war will bring democracy and improve the welfare of peoples, why should I believe it when the evidence of history, and of the "War on Terror" too, is to the contrary?
If my heart tells me that Truth is being crushed by nationalism, flags and slogans, should I listen to the emotions of country or to the cry of my soul?
If I have traveled the world and seen the light of God in the souls of people everywhere I have been, why should I consider citizens of this country particularly favored by God? And if I have seen how pursuit of material wealth has nothing to do with those things I consider most important, how should I spend my time on Earth?
If I feel courage comes in the living of my faith, should I fear being called a coward for acting on my beliefs? If I support killing though I believe killing is wrong, and if I go as the crowd goes in a time of injustice and evil, though I feel the direction of the masses is repulsive and counter productive, would I not then truly be devoid of bravery?
If others think they are protecting my freedom, yet I am convinced they are merely perpetuating a world of injustice, increasing poverty and ignorance, supporting the power of the rich, and dying in wars that are justified with lies, should I help them feel noble or speak my understanding of the Truth?
If I do not share the fears of others, and do not wish to protect myself from the threats they feel, why should I imitate their defensive measures? If my experience is that I can never really be safe, but I can be at peace, why should I obsess about security? If I have observed how treating others with mercy and dignity makes friends of enemies, dissolves fears, and opens doors to peace, why should I favor the isolation that comes from tactics of defensiveness, distrust, and a reliance on the threat of coercion?
When the Beatitudes speak of the paradoxical blessings of meekness, poverty, mourning, hunger, mercy, a pure heart, peacemaking and persecution for the sake of justice, I recognize the beauty in the harsh yet wonderful condition of this world. I seek for my path to follow this way of blessing described by Jesus. My experience is that the Good, the Beautiful and the True are all possible, but for them to be part of my life I must focus on living a life of active peace.
New York, United States - 2011-02-03
I feel that in almost every single situation there are non-violent approaches one could take to arrive at a resolution. Violence should be used as an absolute last resort, if at all, to resolve a conflict. And I feel that, especially in contemporary times, this is not the case. In our global society it seems that violence is used first in a shoot first, ask questions later style, and this is not something I support. All sides guilty of this shoot first philosophy, some faster than others, but all have blood on their hands. It is here I declare my conscientious objection to this practice. I would much rather see efforts made to lend an ear or a helping hand to or even an affirming pat on the back instead of a firearm to the face.
hoover L sharon
DE, United States - 2011-02-03
As a teenager, I joined the Navy in order to get some education and a job at the same time. I quickly learned that the armed forces would not challenge me in such a way that I would learn ways to make the United States healthier and stronger, only ways to assist it in using force against an "enemy." There were good things involved; that's partly why I would support a young person devoting two years to serve the United States in some way between high school and college.
As I looked--for years--for ways to strengthen the United States peaceably for peaceable purposes. Although I had been active in a Protestant Church since birth, I did not find any--at least at that time--where I could stand clearly for justice and peace. I finally found the Religious Society of Friends. I attended for ten years before I joined because I was unsure what I would do if the United States was to go to war here or abroad. I decided that I could not kill; I would not kill. However, I would help anyone who was injured or in need. That's the heroism I would be called to.
I have belonged to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) for about 30 years now. I have learned a great deal about it and about pacifism. I have also learned a great deal about taxation and conscience. Although I--and my family--had debated what to do about taxes for the military since the 1970s, and my husband and I have done several things--withhold small amounts, write letters to the IRS, to our senators and representatives, to the local newspaper, we had not lit on any one thing we thought best until we worked with a faithfulness group, then with our local Meeting for Worship, then with our Regional Meeting, and finally with our Yearly Meeting that we came out with a strong, firm stand.
On April 1, 2006. we adopted the following as a statement for the entire New York Yearly Meeting (New York and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey):"The Living Spirit works to give joy, peace and prosperity through love, integrity and compassionate justice among people. We are united in this Power. We acknowledge that paying for war violates our religious conviction. We will witness to this religious conviction in each of our communities."
Our conviction is based on the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth and joins with all the peace religions that Karen Armstrong presents in her book The Great Transformation.
I continue to pay my taxes legally; however, I also "witness to my religious conviction that paying for was is wrong. War is not the answer."
Sharon Lee Hoover
MI, United States - 2010-12-20
We are ready to recognize one loving Creator, one unfolding religion, the oneness of humanity, and the promise of world peace.
I am a Baha'i with Christian roots. Since 1992, I have sought to reconcile conflicting demands as a citizen who is simultaneously called to obey governmental laws and to love all persons, especially enemies. I have tried several methods to observe dual allegiance (reduced income & tax liability, redirected taxes, paid under protest, sought religious counsel, and from 2006-2008 spent 60-70 hrs/wk building support for a legal alternative (the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund bill).
In 1912, 'Abdu'l-Baha (son of the prophet-founder of the Baha'i Faith) said:
"Implements of war and death are multiplied and increased to an inconceivable degree, and the burden of military maintenance is taxing the various countries beyond the point of endurance. Armies and navies devour the substance and possessions of the people; the toiling poor, the innocent and helpless are forced by taxation to provide munitions and armament for governments bent upon conquest of territory and defense against powerful rival nations. There is no greater or more woeful ordeal in the world of humanity today than impending war."
War and its ravages blight the world. Conquest of territory has partially been replaced by corporate control of resources, but military maintenance still taxes people beyond the point of endurance. A large portion of the substance of the people still is devoured by idolatrous militarism. And I am still being forced by taxation to provide munitions and armament to my government which inadequately uses the means of development and diplomacy to prevent or resolve conflicts.
In the past, a number of adult men were compelled by the U.S. government to directly participate in war by "the bearing of arms", in violation of their consciences. After decades of struggle, military service alternatives are now recognized by the international community as a freedom of conscience right.
At present, men, women, and children are being compelled by their governments to directly participate in the financing of war with their personal earnings, in violation of their spiritual consciences. The inequity of U.S. federal spending between military and social/environmental needs partially drive my beliefs in the inherent waste and sinfulness of war. When I knowingly contribute financially, am I not responsible for the predictable use of this money, and therefore complicit in collective sin?
The freedom to manifest one's beliefs was central to the formation of U.S. colonies and unification as States. The United Nations was created to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, to reaffirm faith in the dignity and worth of each person, and to promote social progress. I truly believe all humanity is one and my family, and seek to love all as such. How can I simultaneously love my neighbor and enemies yet pay for their harm?
I do not believe that all violence is categorically wrong or that my individual conscience should be exalted over society's need for collective security. I support efforts at the United Nations level whereby principles replace expediency and some national sovereignty is curtailed in order to create a system in which force is used collectively and as a servant of justice.
I assert it is a natural right of conscience to be free from coerced participation in killing, whether that coercion be physical or financial. In doing so, do we not manifest part of the life-affirming collective conscience of humanity which the United States and United Nations were formed to nurture and protect?
Alan Gamble, Jackson MI, United States December 2010
Bruce J Wright
Florida, United States - 2010-11-16
I, Rev. Dr. Bruce Wright, stand against war as it is a violation of Jesus' call for us to be peace makers. We are called to love others and pray for our enemies, not make war. Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers, not blessed are the warmongers.
cox e diane
ny, United States - 2010-08-27
the thought of my tax dollars supporting harm to others, in any fashion, puts blood on my hands. i do not support my taxes to go to support war or any war associated effort.
this country does not need to be #1 in the world, it is divisive here at home and all over the earth. the way to effect peace is not thru war, but through openness, coming together and working towards a common good.
our planet is too small for war, the ramifications of our violence is cumulative and incendiary...and so easily sustained.
Kristin W. Buchholz
NY, United States - 2010-08-09
I believe that all forms of life are sacred and should be valued and respected. In valuing all walks of life, I personally, and in cooperation with others, denounce war and violence. I do not believe in war or justifications for war. I practice listening to my own conscience when facing conflict. This inner wisdom, as well as my community, and my Higher Power, all guide me in finding and acting upon peaceful and compassionate alternatives to resolve conflict. I am bound by my beliefs and my own conscience to speak and act on behalf of peace and compassion for myself and others.
Hoover C Nadine
NY, United States - 2010-07-18
I solemnly attest that war-premeditated killing of people for political ends-is wrong. I conscientiously object to war and refuse to participate in war, including paying for it. War, in my experience, is about death and about wealthy people making money and securing natural resources for the few. There is no excuse for war or war profiteering.
War is preventable if we commit to routing out of public life the lesser forms of violence, including deceit, greed, neglect, abuse, prejudice and humiliation. We train massive numbers of people in how to humiliate, intimidate, terrify and kill, which decreases our domestic and world security.
War is preventable if politicians serve the law not rule by might. The truth sets us free, not a secret state, covert operations or wealth accumulation. I worked with Indonesian Islamic schools for eight years prior to September 11th, 2001 and I testify that if we had gone after Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda members as criminals, the world would have united with us and we would be far more secure today. War and enemy-making made us less secure.
War is preventable if we set our minds to ending war and commit to integrity in friendship, ethics, law, diplomacy and compassionate justice. Once we see that violence, coercion and war are not options then honesty, openness, justice and compassion become our line of defense, otherwise these ingredients of peace are luxuries we can't afford.
I am a member of the New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM). In 2006 we approved the following statement of faith: The Living Spirit works to bring life, joy, peace and prosperity, through love, integrity and compassionate justice among people. We are united in this power and acknowledge that paying for war violates our religious conviction. We will witness to this conviction in each of our communities.
I came to this conviction from my unwavering faith in the power of the Living Spirit that takes away the occasion for all war. I've been an active Quaker since 1967 and lived in numerous war zones. I am a massage therapist, a Quaker traveling in the ministry and a member of the Conscientious Objection to Paying for War Committee. I live on income below the taxable level. I do not have any investments in military enterprises. I am conscientious about my purchases. I have facilitated Alternatives to Violence Workshops since 1978. I conduct workshops on conscience and coordinate the Conscience Studio. I also go to twice a year to war zones or former war zones to work on nonviolence, conscience and conscientious service to increase security through friendship, diplomacy, education, relief in times of need and whatever nonviolent means present themselves.
This is my testimony to the whole world; I will not participate in war and I will do everything I can to remove the roots of war from my life and home.
Sincerely, Nadine Hoover