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Objections from the Conscience


September 4, 2012 | Ben Carman

Objections from the Conscience

Ben Carman, a recent past member of the BPFNA Board of Directors, wrote this piece when he was a first year student at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. A Teach For America participant, Ben now teaches 8th grade Special Education at Central Academy of Excellence in Kansas City, MO, and is working on his Master's Degree in Education.

Ever since I have known what a "conscientious objector" was, I have considered myself one. I remember hearing the term at age 15, and wondering "Well, why wouldn't anyone want to subscribe to a title that simply states an opposition to killing?"

The idea seems obvious to me, but to some, the concept of being a "C.O." remains a mystery. I publicly expressed my commitment to C.O. status in the summer of 2007 at the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America's Peace Camp Gathering.

Although I cannot remember my exact words from that day, here is my profession of pacifism and of conscientious objection. I offer it to anyone who does not understand why a person would want to commit to this idea: I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, and I believe in Christianity. As part of that belief system, I subscribe to the 10 Commandments of the Bible as a simple foundation for the guidelines of my beliefs.

Now, I may not be as familiar with these commandments as I would need to be in order to remember the exact wording and arrangement of them, but I'm pretty sure that somewhere in there, God tells us that it's not a good idea to kill one another.

This seems like a pretty simple idea to me. If you love God and respect God's power, you should respect the fact that only God is entitled to the giving and taking away of life. In the same way, if you love your neighbor, you should probably think that killing him or her is not the best way to show your love. These are ideas that I firmly believe in. As I struggle to love each one of my neighbors, and as I struggle to love God as fully as possible, I just cannot see how killing anyone would help me increase my love.

I've just turned 18 on January 19, and with that birthday, I am required by the United States of America to register for the draft of the Department of Selective Service. This requirement, I understand, is a policy of the government, but it is something that completely contradicts my religious beliefs. In order to satisfy both the obligations that I have – the one to my Government and the one to my God – the only thing that I can look to do is register as a Conscientious Objector. On that note, I commit to try as hard as I can never to kill, never to go to war, and never to send anyone to war, so that I can follow God in my mission of peace.

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