Dear Senator Harold Hughes,
First I would like to say I strongly support you and Amendment 609 to cut off funds for the war in Indochina.
I know not the effect of writing this letter. It will provide you with no new information, I’m sure, and yet in the midst of cries that our government is not responsive to the will of the people, I feel people have a tremendous obligation to express their opinions to their representatives and to participate to the greatest possible extent in selecting those representatives. If the government is unresponsive, we the citizens are to blame.
I write about a deep concern of mine–conscription. Under the present draft law I, a Quaker and a pacifist, would be classified as a conscientious objector. Last November I registered and applied for conscientious objector status, with strong reservations as to the morality of such a system. I wasn’t sure enough of my position to warrant breaking the law at that time.
I am sure we all agree that we try to make our laws in accordance with what is referred to as the “higher law”. And yet we often feel that taking a completely idealistic stand is not practical, at least within the context of the present world situation, so we compromise. Now I do not condemn compromise in itself, but I do reject an attempt to subvert my conception of the higher law to the laws of men. Therefore I believe I would refuse to be inducted into the armed forces, even as a conscientious objector. This is an act of civil disobedience. I do not mean to show disrespect for law in general, but in this case I believe we have made a grave mistake and I do not believe I would be helping this country by doing something I believe to be morally wrong.
I also feel obligated to propose an alternative. I believe the United States should develop a nonviolent approach to domestic and international policy, refuting not only infantry soldiers, but all armaments–missiles, bombs, etc. The power of nonviolence has been proven many times, the most well known being India, and the civil rights and antiwar movements in the United States. I know this sounds far-out in the light of Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Middle East, the arms race, etc., and yet due to these very same situations we are beginning to realize that military force is just not effective. I would urge you to read such books as The Power of Nonviolence by Richard Gregg. Really, I believe this is realistic. The only requirement is that we keep the faith, daily.
Jeffrey A Kisling