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Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Requirements of Conscience


Thank you for the email regarding the debt we owe veterans and current military personnel (Email Video).  I had three uncles who were of age to be of service during WWII.  Two (Uncle Monroe and Uncle Joe) were in the Navy.  I can never remember either one of them saying one word about the war.  I always attributed this to a reluctance to relive verbally a terrifying time.  My third uncle (Uncle Calhoun) was a conscientious objector.  He served in a mental hospital during the war.  He refused to fight because he could not imagine Jesus killing anyone.  I personally resisted the Vietnam War.  I hold that for God and Country I went to prison during that war.  You may well consider this an untenable position.  I am reassured by the fact that my mother, a God fearing and patriotic woman, gave me loving support during that time.  She too felt the justifications for the war were highly dubious.  “My Country, Right or Wrong” is a position I do not think an individual from any country should hold.  Countries, like individuals, can make mistakes and occasionally should be discouraged from questionable actions.  During the Vietnam War, one must not forget that young men were being asked to kill or be killed for a highly debatable cause.  Fifty-eight thousand Americans were killed.  Two million Vietnamese were killed.  As someone who tries to be a Christian, I do not agree with my Uncle Calhoun that participating in a war is never justified.  Nevertheless, I must agree with him; it’s very hard to imagine Jesus (who taught that we should love our enemies) bayonetting a soldier or even dropping napalm from a high altitude.  As a Christian the most I can do is assert that war is sometimes a necessary evil rather than a commendable good.  I look to my uncles who fought; yet neither one expected nor sought after eternal glory or guilt induced gratitude.  All three of my uncles followed the call of conscience.  Why should we view this as extraordinary?  It’s what every human being is designed to do.  If we honor one, we should honor all who do so.

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