If you listen to what I witter on about regularly you might know that I’m a staunch pacifist. I do not believe there is ever a justification for war. I know this opens up a whole can of worms – such as “What about Hitler?” and the like – and I don’t have clever answers. If I did I’d be waiting for my Noble prize by now. I do believe there is always a non-violent path available IF people are willing to look. I also know that while a few people like me might not make much difference, change has to start somewhere tiny. I’d also like to point out that pacisim is not passivity. I will protest as much as I can – hopefully more and more.
So this post, C in the A to Z Challenge, is a little celebration and toast to Conscientious Objectors. Men and women who have, despite the consequences, stood up for what they believe is right and in the sanctity of human life. I believe it’s more important now than ever, when conflict after conflict breaks out without us apparently batting an eyelid. Whether it’s the West attacking selected countries on “humanitarian” grounds (that may or may not just happen to have oil reserves) or totalitarian regimes of any country murdering and torturing its citizens, thousands of people are being killed all over the world every day and people are being sold the lie that fighting in these conflicts is the ‘right’ thing to do. The First World War, as an example, was sold as a glorious quest against the rampaging greed of the Germans (which to be honest is a cheek considering the extent of the British Empire) and hundreds of thousands of British soldiers were killed.
Conscientious Objectors faced ridicule, estrangement from loved ones, even prison for refusing to join in with the conflict; others assuaged their consciences by acting as ambulance aides and medics. Luckily we don’t face the threat of conscription as they did. If I was given a paper tomorrow commanding me to sign up to the military on pain of imprisonment I hope I’d have the courage of my convictions. I know a lot of people will not agree with my views. There will be the arguments against evils such as Hitler or Hussein – to which I would answer that evil begets evil. I know many will agree in principle but suggest that it’s not a practical position. In the meantime, I’m going to keep voicing the objections of my conscience to all conflict and violence, and trying to pass them onto my children.