Statements of Conscience

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.