This I Believe

D. - Cocoa, Florida
Entered on January 15, 2007

I never took the easy way. My second-grade teacher told us, “if it’s worth believing, it’s worth fighting for.”

I became an engineer when engineering was still pretty much an all-male field. I was one of the first three women chosen to train for Special Forces, despite being five feet tall and 105 pounds. I’ve disarmed bombs and handled poisonous explosives. I worked for NASA, before it became an incestuous collection of managers rather than a daring Dream for reaching for the future.

I’m too old now to serve in the military, but if I could, I would enlist today — and refuse to be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan, in order to prove that George Bush is not the legitimate commander, and his invasions and attacks are not legal.

The men and women refusing to be sent back to commit murder at the orders of a wartime deserter are the true heroes, the true patriots, the Americans we should be most proud of. To refuse to obey an illegal order has always been the hardest way — the act of most supreme courage.

If a manager told me to use cheaper materials when handling hypergolics, I would refuse to do it. If an officer ordered me to fire on unarmed children, I would refuse to do it. If a person with neither experience nor intelligence ordered me to go seize oil fields to increase his own personal profits, and kill anyone who stood in his way, I WOULD NOT DO IT.

I believe that integrity and personal honor are the most valuable yardsticks by which we measure ourselves. If my family, my country, were under attack, I would fight back with everything I had.

But I also believe that obeying an illegal order makes one criminally complicit, and that the greatest act of courage is not to throw yourself on a grenade to save your friends, but to risk your own freedom and save your friends by encouraging them to speak out, to fight back against all enemies foreign AND DOMESTIC, and to not to sacrifice themselves in service of cowards and war profiteers by “just following orders.”