A Matter of Conscience

This letter is from the heart. Please circulate it to people who you think may support the war or know people who do. If all the military would have this conscience there would be no war and maybe the human race can get on with loving each other and honoring the differences in all the races. A Matter Of Conscience By Sgt. Kevin Benderman 1-17-5 Having watched and observed life from the standpoint of soldier for ten years of my life, I felt there was no higher honor than to serve my country and defend the values that established this country. My family has a history of serving this country dating back to the American Revolution and I felt that to continue on in that tradition was the honorable thing to do. As I went through the process which led to my decision to refuse deployment to Iraq for the second time, I was torn between thoughts of abandoning the soldiers I serve with, or following my conscience which tells me: war is the ultimate in destruction and waste of humanity.

Thoughts that we could, and should, consider better ways to solve our differences with other people in the world have crossed my mind on numerous occasions. And this was the driving force that made me refuse deployment to Iraq a second time. Some people may say I am doing so out of fear of combat; I am not going to tell you that the thought of going back to that place isn't scary, but that is not the reason for my decision to not return. I want people to know that the longer I thought about just how stupid the concept of war really is the stronger I felt about not participating in war. Why do we tell our children to not solve their differences with violence, then turn around and commit the ultimate in violence against people in another country who have nothing to do with the political attitudes of their leaders? Having read numerous books on the subject of war and having heard all the arguments for war, I have come to the conclusion that there are no valid arguments for the destructive force of war. People are destroyed, nations are destroyed, and yet we continue on with war.

The young people that I went with to the combat zone looked at it like it was a video game they played back in their childhood. When you contemplate the beauty of the world around us and the gifts we have been given you have to ask yourself, "Is this what humanity is meant to do, wage war against one another"? Why can't we teach our children not to hate or to not be afraid of someone else just because they are different from us? Why must it be considered honorable to train young men and women to look through the sights of a high-powered rifle and to kill another human being from 300 meters away? Consider, if you will, the positive things that could be accomplished without war in our lives; prescription medication that is affordable for seniors; college grants that are available for high schools seniors; I could name a list of reasons not to waste our resources on war. The most important being to let the children of the world learn war no more. I've received e-mails from people who said that I was a coward for not going to war, but I say to them that I have already been, so I do not have anything to prove to anyone any more. What is there to prove anyway, that I can kill someone I do not even know and has never done anything to me? What is in that concept that anyone could consider honorable? I first realized that war was the wrong way to handle things in this or any other country when I went to the war zone and saw the damage that it causes. Why must we resort to violence when things do not go our way? Where is the logic of that?

I have felt that there are better ways to handle our business than to bomb each other into oblivion. When you are on the water in a boat and you have a chance to see dolphins playing with each other as they go about their business, you realize that if they can live without war then humanity should be able to as well. Can't we teach our children to leave war behind in history where it belongs? We have come to realize that slavery was an obsolete institution and we realized that human sacrifice was an obsolete institution and we left them behind us. When are going to have the same enlightened attitude about war? I look at my stepchildren and realize that war has no place with me in giving them what they need to survive the trials and tribulations of early adult hood. And if you look at all the time soldiers lose in the course of fighting wars such as birthdays and anniversaries, their children going to the senior prom and college graduations, and other things which can never be replaced, then you have to come the understanding that war steals more from people than just the sense of humanity, it also steals some of that humanity from their family. 

I have learned from first hand experience that war is the destroyer of everything that is good in the world, it turns our young into soulless killers and we tell them that they are heroes when they master the 'art' of killing. That is a very deranged mindset in my opinion. It destroys the environment, life, and the resources which could be used to create more life advancing endeavors. War should be left behind us; we should evolve to a higher mindset even if it means going against what most people tell us in this country, such as that we can never stop fighting with other people in the world. I have made the decision to not participate in war any longer and some people in this country cannot comprehend that concept but to me it is simple. I have chosen not to take part in war and it was easy to come to that decision. I cannot tell anyone else how to live his or her life but I have determined how I want to live mine--by not participating in war any longer, as I feel that it is stupid and also that it is against everything that is good about the world.

Commentary By Monica Benderman mdawnb@coastalnow.net 

For the past two weeks, my husband and I have answered questions from reporters, journalists, interested citizens from almost every state in the union, and about 8 foreign countries. After all of these interviews, I have a few questions of my own. What is wrong with a country in which a man and his wife have to jump through hoops, and take psychological tests, and wait three months for the results of an application that declares that he has made a conscious choice to never go to war again? What is wrong with the state of affairs of a country when a man and his wife must use every media source available, and during those interviews face the questioning of his and their character, all because that man has decided that he cannot in good conscience ever participate in war again? What is wrong with the direction of the world when a man and his wife receive phone calls and emails from all over their country asking them to explain themselves, calling them coward, wondering if they have ever read the Bible or studied the scripture, all because that man has chosen to speak out against war and violence, and his wife has chosen to stand with him?

What is wrong with a country when an application for Conscientious Objector status is reviewed and questioned, when a man's mental state is evaluated, when his morality is brought into question by a supposed Chaplain (a man of God), all because this soldier has decided that he cannot use a weapon to kill another person for any reason?

What is wrong with a country when a man can walk into a military recruiting office and sign on the dotted line and find himself in a war zone 2 months later, without one question directed toward his sanity? 

What is wrong with a country when a boy can meet a recruiter in high school, before he has even graduated and chosen his life,s path, and upon graduation leave for training, and 2 months later find himself in a war zone, without one question directed toward his sanity? 

What is wrong with a country where war is glorified and fighting for peace is cowardly? People ask us how my husband arrived at his decision that he could no longer bear a weapon and go to war against another man. They are amazed that after all of the years that he has served in the military, that he has come to this conclusion. I am amazed that anyone even thinks that he should have to explain himself. People want to know the process of how my husband came to his decision. They ask if I watched the process, if he agonized, if I felt his anguish. This questioning is beyond my comprehension. I answer the best that I can, in awe that I even have been asked. People want to know if it was stress, PTSD that caused him to change his mind. They want to know what terrible things he saw that made him make such a drastic change. 

People want to know if there was thunder and lightning, an awakening, an epiphany. I stand in silence, words escape me. Have we gone so far away from Truth, that people actually believe that war and killing is right, and that a man must be crazy to want to walk away? There was no 'bright light.' There were no angels, no mighty bolt of thunder. There was only reality and facing it with eyes wide open. All the sensationalism of preparing for war, the 'glory,' the 'honor,' the absence of reality in any training and any preparation, the illusion of the fight, and the altered perceptions of what we would face, not only in combat, but as a family dealing with the effects of war and its consequences were not strong enough to keep us from seeing the reality when it slapped us in the face. WAR IS WRONG. War brings nothing but death and destruction. War takes away all humanity, not only from the people who die, but also from the people who do the killing. 

War is insanity, and killing is the pleasure of the truly insane. What brought my husband, and me supporting him, to the conclusions that he has come to? What great light shown bright and told him that he could kill no more? Reality. Life is all that matters. Life is the greatest gift we have been given, and we do not have the right to take it away. One person stops, and there is one less person killing. One more person has stopped, and his reward? To be treated as a coward, to be called insane, to be judged as stressed, to be held up as immoral and as a failure for not following through on his duty to the men he served with. One man has stopped killing. One man has chosen to find a path other than war. One man has taken the right road, the only road that leads to sanity, and leads to peace. 

That man and his wife hope that one more man will follow, and another after that. And the duty they adhere to will be saving a life. The honor they receive will be knowing that they stood strong in their commitment, they stood for their faith, and they honored the highest order, and respected Life. Anything else is a travesty, anything else is the act of a coward, anything else is to walk away from God and to fail one of Life's greatest tests. Comment Michael Shore 1-17-5 Great, great piece. Thank you for writing it and expressing yourselves in such a magnificent way! 

War is the work of EVIL killer MAD MEN who somehow got themselves into Nation leadership positions. Who else could kill and injure hundreds of millions of our fellow human beings in wars? If the leaders and politicians vote for war, shouldn't their children, grand children, relatives and friends be the FIRST in the line of battle and harms way, especially since they think that war and the sick insane killing of human beings in war is "just"? The main beneficiaries of war are the weapon manufacturers, war industrialists and the bankers and war profiteers who steal the spoils of war. 

War is sick,insane, primitive and barbaric. Love is the CURE Love is the answer STOP THE KILLING OF HUMAN BEINGS PEACE 

Michael Shore Rense.com




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