Former enlisted man now a CO

… and I don’t mean “Commanding Officer.”  If you clicked in here mindlessly, thinking this was going to be a nice, seasonally appropriate tribute to “our service men and women,” you might want to click out again and save yourself some heartburn.

For a revealing interview about Conscientious Objector status, click here.  The interviewee is a Christian . . .

  • who mentions having heard, while a student in a Christian school, then-president George W. Bush’s Christian ideals touted as exemplary, and
  • who enlisted and served in Iraq, but
  • who later found his ideals, morals, and ethics increasingly challenged by what he actually found in the military

One would have to applaud this man’s courage in taking unpopular steps.  Taken purely objectively, his actions that overtly countered (okay — rebelled against)  the military machine took a lot of guts.  Assuming the man’s sanity and his honesty in the interview, it would be reasonable to respect his courage to act on principles, even if you disagree with his particular scruples.  Personally, I would tend to agree with said scruples — and found myself feeling affirmed, as I read various anecdotes:  military experiences (such as chanted “cadences,” lack of ethics in combat situations, hazing and abuse, etc.), as described, run alarmingly parallel to the military experiences I have imagined for years.

So, please read the interview if you haven’t yet.  And, even if you disagree with the conclusions reached by Stieber, please consider the possibility that many things you have come to believe (oh, I don’t know — things communicated by upper-level administration/bosses, or by your denomination) might not turn out to be just as reported.


Postscript 1:  Another item at the same website describes in relatively objective terms the process of becoming a CO while in the military.  One item in this interview alarms me:  that the percentage of approvals granted has historically been related to “where we are in a war.”  I find appalling the admission that far fewer CO applications were approved, for example, at the beginning of the Vietnam war than at the end of it.  This fact screams that the military’s perceived needs trump individual citizens’ principles and consciences.

Postscript 2:  If a reader or six might tend to be annoyed by the fact that I’m posting this two days before Memorial Day, please at least give me a little credit

  1. for having come upon this story without looking for it, about 3 days ago, and
  2. for not posting it ON Memorial Day, when I’ll actually be doing a bit of civic duty in participating musically in a Memorial Day ceremony in a nearby town, despite the fact that I’m uncomfortable with some of the assumptions inherent in the ceremony

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