The last post from my journal from my Scattergood days was about the Peace Walk the School did as part of the Vietnam War Moratorium Days, October 15, 1969. The plan was to have another Moratorium Day November 15.
Journal, October 24, 1969
I, along with Ann D, was appointed to organize a draft conference here at Scattergood for the November Moratorium. We plan to have it on Saturday, Nov. 15, inviting kids from West Branch, Kalona (Iowa Mennonite School), West Liberty, Tipton, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids High Schools. We’ve been working with Tim Gardner, newly in charge of the AFSC office in Iowa City. I’ve spent hours on this thing so far, and its really made me feel good for a change. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people a lot better, too.
“War is a crime against humanity. I therefore am determined not to support any kind of war, international or civil, and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.” Enrollment pledge of the War Resisters League. Signed Jeffrey A Kisling
I’ve been trying to think of what I might say to my draft board if I don’t register.
The month of my first fateful decision begins. Arlo Tatum, National Secretary of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO) will be here tomorrow.
I’ve been very glad that I could get involved in the draft conference planned for November 15. I always relate this work and concern for others to what I am thinking about conscription. Last Friday night Bob Scattergood took us Senior boys to West Branch to watch the football game. I spent most of the time watching the people–the parents, the kids, the football players–wondering what they are thinking and doing today. And I am sorry that they really haven’t considered the draft and conscription, mainly through lack of information and adverse social and political pressure.
I feel people would reach the same conclusions I do about conscription, that it should be rejected, if they had enough information–not influence, just stimulation to consider many sides of the issue and to learn facts of the case–and enough motivation to really consider the issues. I’m really glad I can have a part in beginning to make that information available to students in this area, and, perhaps later, I can help get more information over a larger area.
I wish they could see things the way I do, because I am convinced that what I believe in is good and right. It is a vision of the imagination, perhaps not a practical vision in the eyes of many, but it is a vision I believe in and feel obliged to try to live up to. This vision encompasses the teachings of Jesus, the prophets, some philosophers, the principles of nonviolence, resisting evil with good, doing unto others as I would have them do unto me, devotion to principles, respect for one another, community based on consensus, caring, hoping, living. Ideals, perhaps, that man cannot attain, though I believe we can, and I want to try–we must live in the world today as we would like people to be able to live in the future, if that future world is to be attained on this earth.
Why not be a C.O. (conscientious objector) and do alternative service–do something “effective” for two years instead of “wasting” two, three, or more years in prison?
I believe that as long as the government has the manpower, and little dissent from the public, it will continue to get involved in more Vietnams, or something even worse.
But the Selective Service System itself doesn’t see the procurement of military personnel as its only, or even, perhaps, primary purpose, according to its own publications. By “pressurized guidance” and “channeling” the Selective Service System tries to direct the lives of American young men into institutions and vocations which it defines as in the “national interest.” Following is an excerpt from the Selective Service pamphlet, Channeling, July 1965:
“Throughout his career as a student the pressure continues. It continues with equal intensity after graduation. He is impelled to pursue his skill rather than embark upon some less important enterprise and is encouraged to apply his skill in an essential activity in the National interest. The loss of deferred status is the consequence for the individual who has acquired the skill and does not use it or uses it in a nonessential activity.”
(note: It’s scary to read that now, in 2017)
If I am to love my neighbor as myself, can I let him go to war, though he probably doesn’t want to? The social pressure is tremendous, propaganda widespread, and little or no information is available about alternatives. Or can I stand by and watch him forced through college and into a profession he probably would not have chosen, had he had a real choice? Why is there campus unrest? Because many of those people wouldn’t be there if they weren’t afraid of the consequences. Most of these people are being directed into a field considered to be in the national interest. Most are force into science and technology. Who is left in the humanities? Who cares about the poor, the black, the environment, freedom, justice, and the future of the world?
“Is it not possible that an individual may be right and a government wrong? Are laws to be enforced simply because they are made? Or declared by any number of men to be good if they are not good?” Henry David Thoreau, A Plea for Captain John Brown, 1859