The Unorthodox Website Blog

Conscientious Objection to Military Service

10 Jan

I recently read an on-line autobiography of a famous medium who was a CO in the Second World War because he couldn’t kill anybody, knowing the trauma spirits experienced when suddenly catapulted into the next world.

What I couldn’t understand was that, unlike some of his fellow conscientious objectors, he was willing to don military uniform and to do work which directly assisted the war effort. So he was helping to build railways and military roads, and even load ships with military supplies. Meanwhile his wife worked in a munitions factory, and his stepson was bombing civilians and others in Germany and German occupied countries.

Each must decide for themselves and live with their own conscience and beliefs, but I find it a little illogical. Having said that on analyzing my own pacifist beliefs I realize it is the actual killing or pulling of the trigger which is impossible for pacifists to do. In my case I can perfectly well see the need for armed police at least in certain situations, and for the need for them and security forces to shoot to kill in certain extreme circumstances, such as when facing armed criminals or terrorists about to detonate a bomb.

However I doubt I could ever pull the trigger myself, but am willing to let others do it for me. Which means were I younger I should never apply to join the police or any security force.

This brings to mind a pacifist I knew years ago who became a security guard, but when I questioned him as to what he would do if someone tried to steal the money he was paid to protect he said he’d just let them take it as he couldn’t use violence against them. This is of course a very dishonest policy; accepting a job when you know you could never carry it out.

What alternative service would I have been willing to do were I to face conscription? In fact it was abolished a few years before I would have been called-up, and anyway my physical deformities would probably have excluded me. I would have been willing to work in the medical corps, maybe in the catering corps, but would never agree to put on uniform.

What I would have preferred, but what would have been impossible of course, would have been to go to Germany and join their medical teams treating soldiers and civilians injured by Allied weapons. Of course this would never have been allowed by either side, and on arrival in Germany I’d have been imprisoned.

Nowadays it is much more complicated as there is no conscription but our taxes are used to pay for illegal weapons of mass destruction like Trident and, of course, for military escapades overseas. People have tried unsuccessfully to withhold taxes they consider would be used for military purposes, but most of us do not even have that option since PAYE means taxes are deducted from salaries before we even see them.

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