Sunday, May 21, 2006

For the wrong reasons

Several people in my offline life have made a point recently that makes me uncomfortable.

"If we become a peace church," they say, "our young men will find it easier to avoid the draft."

Yesterday, a woman went even so far as to sneer "For all those boys who didn't start writing letters about how they were pacifists at age 12."

For what it's worth, according to a large organization of objectors applying for status really isn't nearly as bad as people seem to think, assuming you know three people willing to write letters about what a peaceful guy you are. You don't HAVE to be a member of a peace church. It appears that the Army doesn't want a bunch of people in their ranks who are evangelizing for pacifism. I'm sure it helps, but "become a Quaker" doesn't even make the list of suggestions.

But I have a deeper problem with this argument.

I think it's really telling that this CO thing comes up as quickly as it does. It's one of the top reasons people give for passing this SAI.

We're not talking much about how we abhor violence in all forms.

We seem to talk a lot about how we could get our hands on the privileges our government gives those who abhor violence in all forms. (Perhaps the right to spend the war as a medic or fighting forest fires in America isn't much of a privilege. But for lack of a better word...)

I love the guys in my YRUU group. I would be devestated if anything happened to one of them.

But passing a resolution so other (poorer? darker-skinned?) guys will die in their place is not something we as a church should be doing.

As UUs, we talk about "justice" a hell of a lot more than we talk about "peace." If America were in danger from a real threat, one who would take over her and treat her people badly, UUs can and should be willing to fight. Freedom is worth that. Democracy is worth that.

There is such a thing as a just war. And I think most of us would agree.

Those that don't can become a CO another way. UUism doesn't lack for opportunities to express one's pacifism. If pacifism is your thing, do it, and UUism will give you plenty of chances to express your beliefs.

But if our best, most consistently stated, reason for passing this would be to send some other religion's kids to die instead of those of ours who DON'T have strong pacifistic view, that's not good enough.

In fact, I'm sort of appalled that people keep suggesting it.



fausto said...

Thanks. That needed to be said. We need to resist the urge to become the Church of Ourselves at every turn.

Steven Rowe said...

Certainly we historicaly at times, stated our peaceloving status (see the 1935 Universalist General Convention which goes on to state "Fellowship in this Convention shall confer the right to interpret the general purpose of the Universalist faith as sanctioning refusal of all forms of military sevice, if such refusal be based on conscientious grounds."

I read where in 1970, the Supreme Court ruled that COs can be COs on other reasons than religious - so why do we need this to "help our young people avoid the draft" anyway? Has no lawyer checked the laws???

My complaint is that to make us a "peace church" means that we have to be peaceful folks... as much as I would like that, i suspect this is putting the cart before the horse. If this is passed, does this mean that UUs in the military lose their UUness? If we are truely a religion without doctrine, why add an unecessary doctrine? On the other hand, I wouldnt mind wording similiar to the old Universalist quote, where we as individuals have the right to interpret - and leaving others their right to interpret.

Anonymous said...

good idea -- leave it open to interpretation. That's pretty UU. And lets people interpret it that way or not.

Jamie Goodwin said...

As been stated before we also have, hisotically, been a faith that supports even sponsers the military.

As CC points out, many of us not classify ourselves as pacifists.. there are many things I would fight and die for.

oh and by the way.. perhaps the correct response is that we don't actually have a draft in place currently. If someone decides to join the military for college money or to improve their future that is great! They should also realize that the entire reason for the military is to fight for American interests, and most often the warriors do not decide where they go to war.