I am a pacifist, according to the now-dormant U.S. Selective Service System. Rather than fight in the war in Vietnam, I became a Conscientious Objector and performed 2 years of alternate service in the early 1970s. This came at some personal cost, though nothing like what was paid by those who served in the military. After “talking the talk” in my application for C.O. status, I encountered J. Krishnamurti, a truth-teller of great power and integrity, who showed me about “walking the walk.” Through the years, I’ve tried to better articulate why I take the “peace-nik” stand.
My grounds are religious. It’s a position based on humility; on knowing the monumental fallibility of myself and of humankind in general. The cosmos is actual, and it abides, independent of what I think. Whether I describe it well or poorly may make some difference for me, but does not change the facts that I’m describing. I do not CREATE truth by saying or believing this or that about it. What is, IS. (Not necessarily that I can apprehend it).
Or, as Flip Wilson once said, “The Truth don’t care if you believe it!”
Belief — faith –, by definition, is the acceptance and advocacy of unproven propositions. It is to me the height of arrogance to think that any of us can be certain enough in our belief to consider harming another over religious differences. I’ve come to see any faith in dogmatic theological propositions as extremely dangerous to humanity and to all life on earth. If you see religion as beginning with what actually is, then, paradoxically, faith plays no part in it. In fact, life is too tenuous, my understanding too tentative, to be certain enough that I am right enough to take up arms as an aggressor.
What I do these days is to trust that whatever has fostered, sustained and nurtured life on our planet will, if we don’t interfere too much, continue to do so. I try not to interfere. There is no rational alternative.
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