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 men on the planet what they need to get by with 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 who 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 it is 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 saw the wrong way that I had been living and I needed to make some changes. Changes that will hopefully let me live a better life and allow me to be a better part of 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 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 for 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, the Persian Gulf War, and now Operation Iraqi Freedom, and my question 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 the center mass of human beings in order to kill them? Or should we be teaching them to hit home runs and 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 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. Shouldn’t we remember his words and try to live them? He had a dream that one day all the children of the world could live together. 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.’"
Why can’t we take that hope 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 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?
Read more by Sgt. Kevin Benderman
- A Matter of Conscience – January 18th, 2005