Benderman: Conscientious Objector Speaks Out


Right to life

By Kevin M. Benderman
Online Journal Guest Writer

January 25, 2005—I have come to the conclusion that the creator does not want us to fight wars or to leave our brothers to die in hunger or disease for we have been given the things we need to provide all people on the planet what they need to get by in the world. I have been led to question some things about myself that I could change to better myself as a man.

Why should I not help another human being that needs what I can help them with? I have ignored that for far too long. I have turned my head when the homeless person asks for a little help. I have taken advantage of others when I should have been offering a hand up. I have done things in my life that I am not proud of. I have not lived a perfect life so I do not claim to have the authority to tell anyone else how to live his or hers.

Some people are asking me why is it now that I have come to this conclusion that I can no longer take part in an organization whose primary purpose is to kill? People are asking how I can spend 10 years in the military and now want to get out or how I can abandon the people that I have served with? I have to tell them that I seen the wrong way that I had been living and that I need to make some changes. Changes that will hopefully let me live a better life and that will allow me to be a better part of the human society.

I have learned that I have done things that are not to the benefit of mankind and that to continue in that vein would be detrimental to my growth as a human being. And now that I have seen the errors of my ways, wouldn't it be prudent to change the way I conduct myself? Why should I continue with what I see as self-destructive behavior? And why should I continue a way of life that does nothing to alleviate some problems that have plagued humanity far too long? If a drug addict learns that the drugs are killing him then he is expected to stop using drugs. That leads me to ask the question, "If what I am doing is killing me spiritually, why should I continue?

Some people claim that war brings peace, if that is the case then why do we not have peace in the world? There have been wars as long as I have been alive and yet we still have no true peace in the world. We are taught in school that we have had the American Revolution and the two world wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Grenada, Beirut, Persian Gulf War, and now Operation Iraqi Freedom, and my point is, "When will it be enough?"

Do we want our grandkids to learn the "art" of war? Should we teach them to throw hand grenades and learn how to shoot center mass of human beings in order to kill them? Or should we be teaching them to hit home runs and to catch fly balls? We should teach them to throw the winning pass at the Super Bowl, anything but how to kill other humans. There are many things that should be shown to our young besides the "honor" of killing.

War should be left behind us in the memories of history. The people of the world should practice it no more. Better results in peace could be realized if we were to reach out to our fellow man with an understanding instead of aligning them in our rifle sights. I know that this is a concept that will take time for people to understand, but isn't it time to start trying?

We have recently observed the day that honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and shouldn't we remember his words and try to live them? "I have a dream that one day that all the children of the world can live together" That may not be the exact quote but I believe that is the essence of what he wanted to see in our world. When will we try to attain that goal?

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.' I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today."

Why can't we take that view for peace in our country and expand it to the nations of the world? It made sense then and it makes sense now. All men are created equal.

And if it is the case that all men are equal, why I am facing the possibility of seven years in federal prison because I do not want to kill another human being?

Kevin Benderman is a conscientious objector facing prison time for refusing to fight the Iraqi people

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