Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pacifism and Concientious Objections

So I started thinking about my stance on war, violence and the like recently. My opinions have not changed but I have defined my position more clearly. My husband lost his job. He worked there for about a year and a half. The pay was better than any other job he has had during our entire marriage. He enjoyed it, gained satisfaction from it, was well liked and good at it, but he lost it. Now we are left in a jam with bleak prospects of finding him a job as good or better. We have been barely getting by and that was good, considering we have been homeless before. I cannot get a job because I do not have a green card and no work permit yet. A remote, yet unexplored possibility occurred to us. Marcus should reenlist in the navy. It is by no means a sure thing because he needs a special waver due to asthma. I am not going to get too into any of this because that is not what this blog entry is about, just giving some background about what led to this.

I have always thought of myself as a pacifist, knowing all along that that is not the term for me. Sometimes your brain gets stuck on a word to describe something with that you know is not accurate. I knew this but did not give it much thought. I was never really able to articulate my thoughts on the matter to many people because my convictions on war and peace are motivated by my faith but so many people around me did not agree and I feared judgment.

I come from a long line (well, two generations) of conscientious objectors. My father and grand father both served in the military, as dictated by Finnish law, my grandfather actually in a time of war. They served faithfully and did their duty, neither killed any one and had it come down to it they would not have. My father was never trained how to shoot a gun, use a grenade or anything of the like during training. My grandfather went through The War (in Finland we did not have WWI and II, just one war that affected us) in the front lines, of nearly the front lines with out carrying a gun and with the explicit knowledge that he would not so much as think about shooting a Russian, or anyone else, if it came down to it.

While I think war is a horrible barbaric thing I am not a pacifist. I would never dream of fighting in a war and killing people just because my government had a problem with their government. At the same time I see no problem with my father following the laws of Finland, putting on a uniform and serving as a mail carrier. The United States military has no such provisions for conscientious objectors as Finland does because it lacks mandatory service. In times of mandatory service the United States has been known to make such accommodations. I am a Quaker and we are traditionally pacifists but the way Quakerism is set up it leaves the specifics of things like this up to the individuals conscience. There are many people in my church who would be horrified with any person of the faith serving in the military and many with service records. The pastor does not comment on this issue much from the pulpit. Many of us attend a peace picnic on Memorial Day.

I am not really going anywhere deep and specific with any of this. I just wanted to share about my thought on this issue. I do not think violence or war is the answer to anything and saying God is on the side of bloodshed seems just wrong. God is on the side of peace but that is no reason to demonize the military. It is a career choice and what an individual makes of it. My husband would never choose a job involving killing, not that the navy has many of those. He will do a job any conscientious objector would be fine with doing, but he will choose to do it because that will be a way to support us. If God does not want my husband to be a part of the military he will prevent it and give us another choice.

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