Reading Chris Matthew’s new book, Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit, I am remembering that tumultuous time in my life, and in our country. I had begun to write in a journal at the beginning of my Senior year, 1969, at Scattergood Friends School.
Why a journal? I would like to have a record of some of my thoughts and experiences. I once started a diary and often enjoyed looking through it, though I soon gave it up as there was little room for an entry every day and comments were limited to the day’s activities in the most superficial sense. One philosophy of life urges one not to worry about the past, but to live today in such a way as to make the past a fond memory.
Another reason is that I feel myself in a crisis at this particular time and feel that writing about my concerns will help to clarify my thoughts. (note–I guess this was the precursor to all the blog posts) I have less than two month’s time till my 18th birthday at which time I will be faced with the problem of registration for the draft.
I am considering two alternatives to the draft–conscientious objector status under the Selective Service System or non cooperation with the Selective Service System. The Richmond Declaration on the Draft and Conscription of 1968, which I helped write, says that Friends opposing war should refuse any type of military service; Friends opposing conscription should refuse to cooperate with the Selective Service System. The Declaration went on to say that we should work for the abolition of the draft and not accept draft reform, as the issue is not equal treatment under compulsion, but freedom from compulsion.
I would hope that we will soon realize that military force is obsolete and immoral, therefore eliminating any need for the draft. And yet at times I almost abandon my idealistic concerns, since it often appears that few other people in this world do have such concerns.
October 6, 1969
One of George Fox’s major insights was that the mark of a true believer, Christian, is a changed life. It seems to me that this is what I’m wrestling with. I fear that if I go to college and get a well paying job, I’ll settle down into the same rut that I see most everyone settling into, and I don’t like it really. It looks comfortable–an easy way out. I feel I’m at the turning point. If I feel compulsion is wrong, I believe I’ll have to take a complete stand against it now, or I’ll never be able to take a stand against the government, with all of the responsibilities I’ll soon acquire. I see the choice essentially between a way of life I idealistically believe to be best, but am not totally sure how to pursue, and a “normal” way of life which I am idealistically uneasy with but believe would be a comfortable way of life.
Today Callie Marsh (librarian) passed out some information about the draft, partially for preparation for our discussion with the draft counselor this Thursday. Most of the boys spent a lot of time looking through it today.
I got a letter from Cornell University saying they had heard that I had participated in a National Science Foundation (NSF) program this summer (working in Don Laughlin’s medical electronics lab at the University of Iowa Hospitals), and invited me to apply to their college of engineering. I also got a letter from Iowa State University inviting me to apply and to consider studying in their Department of Chemical Engineering because of my ACT scores.
We had dinner and spent the evening at the Marsh’s with a draft counselor (Senior boys). It was interesting to hear about the conscientious objector process, but of course didn’t help me make up my mind.