War Today

It was perhaps unfortunately prescient to have written about the Richmond Declaration on the Draft recently, in light of the situation in Syria today.

We call on Friends everywhere to recognize the oppressive burden of militarism and conscription. We acknowledge our complicity in these evils in ways sometimes silent and subtle, at times painfully apparent. We are under obligation as Children of God and members of the Religious Society of Friends to break the yoke of that complicity.

We recognize the evil nature of all forms of conscription, and its inconsistency with the teachings and example of Christ. Military conscription in the United States today undergirds the aggressive foreign policies and oppressive domestic policies which rely on easy availability of military manpower.

Richmond Declaration on the Draft [1968]

What has changed since 1968 is that now a “volunteer” army, rather than conscription, “undergirds the aggressive foreign policies and oppresive domestic policies which rely on easy availability of military manpower.” Volunteer is a euphemism, since many turn to military service when they haven’t been able to find other means of employment. Changing to a volunteer army was a brilliant move on the part of the military, making it easy for us to forget about armed service when youth no longer have to fear being inducted into it.

Also making it easier to forget about armed conflict is the use of remotely controlled drones for military operations. Additionally, just the sound of a drone flying overhead creates feelings of terror in the people below.

What has also changed is military equipment and techniques, rather than conscription, now undergird oppressive domestic policies and civilian law enforcement agencies.

While we can agree with the president’s statements to end endless wars, what is happening to the Syrian Kurdish people is horrifying and obviously not the way to end our military operations there. It would be additionally tragic if the president’s economic conflicts of interest related to Turkey were behind this.

Every so often over the past several decades I’ve heard the question, “where is the antiwar movement?”

We can be grateful for, and continue to support the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and local peace organizations. I have the impression that doing so is the extent of many Friends’ peace efforts.

The reasons Friends made working for peace such a priority included the belief that there is that of God in everyone (and everything). Thus it could never be right to take another’s life. We could also see the terrible toll killing took on the person who did the killing.

One of my peace efforts was to resist the draft back in the days when there was a draft. Since those days my peace work has been led to work to protect Mother Earth. Our war on our environment has caused, and will increasingly cause the deaths of millions of people, and the ruin of our land, air and water.

In 2016 my friends at Sustainable Indiana published their book, “Explore Sustainable Indiana, Celebrating Hoosier Solutions to Our Climate Crisis”. They were kind enough to include my story  Cars as Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Transportation chapter. Part of that story follows.

But the damages from this ill considered mass accumulation of personal automobiles extend far beyond the pollution of our air, land and water. Death and mortality from respiratory illnesses and cancers are widespread. And the assumption that most people have access to personal automobiles has lead to the paving of so much of the earth’s surface, parking lots and garages, and bridges.

Also, the assumption of personal transportation has created very poorly designed cities and neighborhoods, and fractured communities, which has led to violence and contributed to poverty.

The insatiable demand for oil also led to the first United States invasion of another country, and continuous war and terrorism on our part. George Fox admonished us to look for the seeds of war in our own lives. Is there any doubt about what he would say about personal automobiles?

Cars as Weapons of Mass Destruction

This entry was posted in climate change, Ethical Transportation, Quaker, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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