Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Is Conscientious Objector Normal?

Well, not normal in the sense of "normed", that is socially conditioned to be mainstream.  But conscientious objector is standard human default position.  What is twisted is to be willing to kill others.

Now to be sure, all religions caution against killing to some degree, and our rules reveal our weaknesses, and the Ten Commandments certainly contain "Thou Shalt Not Kill."  So getting twisted into a willingness to kill is quite common, as our rules reveal.

I attended a lecture on just war offered by a priest who had been a naval officer.  His revelation came as he stepped on to a nuclear sub for the first time upon which he was to serve, and was appalled by the experience.  The destructive capacity was too great, concentrated in so small a vehicle, and his thinking and meditations led him to leave the navy as a conscientious objector.

What he had to say about that was interesting.  Now my understanding was any officer can resign his commission and leave.  I am sure that have changed.  What he related was when he informed his commanding officer of his change of heart, he was told to keep it absolutely secret.  It would take time, but they would quietly remove him from the navy. If he told anyone before he got out, then he would end up in jail.  Presumably conscientious objection is contagious.

Anyway, in his talk he happened to indicate he thought conscientious objection was something of an aberration.  I let it go during his talk, but approached him afterward to remonstrate with him on this point.  At first he doubled down, then I pointed out that a willingness to kill, although near universal is the aberration.  The conscientious objection is the image of God to which we are to aspire to strive.

Now having said that, being a conscientious objector is a gift.  There is no virtue in the gift, it just is.  But all life is a gift, and the gifts give us an insight into how we would be as obedient children.  Conscientious objection probably comes under, as a gift of the Holy Spirit, under understanding.
Understanding: In understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as followers of Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live. The gift of understanding perfects a person's speculative reason in the apprehension of truth. It is the gift whereby self-evident principles are known;
Such a gift comes with a built in faithfulness.  It would not occur to me to deny it, and no doubt I would be fearless in its defense.  Again, none of this is virtuous, any more than being born rich is virtuous.  It is just an indication to everyone else what the standard is.  And we all have such gifts in some way.

Further, failure in other ways rather overwhelms any benefit being such a torch bearer may have, even if it were some kind of virtue.

The reason I was given AO status, the most extreme form, I am not even allowed to do alternative service, is because as a genuine conscientious objector, I would convince others to be so.  Not everyone, but enough to cause a problem.  Likewise, even a johnny-come-lately as the naval officer was to keep quiet or be jailed.  (Apparently they would jail him on some other charges, in order to keep the CO thing quiet.)

If not normal, conscientious objection is standard human.  It's not for everyone, but for those to whom the gift is given, then rock that gift!

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