Pacifism and Conscientious Objection

Topics: United States, Conscription, Conscientious objector Pages: 8 (2917 words) Published: June 12, 2002
During the 20th century America has been involved in many conflicts that have led to war or the taking up of arms against other humans and nations. Although the vast majority of Americans have blindly accepted these actions throughout the century, more and more people are seeing war as morally wrong. Reasons for this epiphany are based off of a variety of things and encompass many other aspects related to war and killing examples include: due to moral and ethical principles, objection to war due to strong religious beliefs, the objection to violence due to the same ideals above, objection to the government's use of force, and the objection to the use of weapons of mass destruction. Many of the core beliefs of conscientious objection derive from the teachings or beliefs of pacifism. Pacifism has been a system of thinking and living for hundreds of years, and, in the 20th century many objection and pacifistic movements have sprung up all around the nation, more so than in any other time. Pacifism and conscientious objection in the United States have been moral issues that have fallen under question due to the belief of the participants that killing, war, and the act of violence is wrong and immoral. To begin to understand the workings of conscientious objection, it is important have a clear view of what pacifism is. The roots of pacifism reach back for literally hundreds of years. Practically all of the messiahs of all the chief religions of the world preached for pacifism including: Allah and Muhammad from the Muslim Koran, Jesus and God from the Bible used by Catholics, Christens, and Quakers, and in the Jewish Torah. Other teachers of pacifism include: Plato and Socrates. The moral and ethical principles of pacifism and conscientious objection have been present throughout United States history. There have been known objectors in every single war that America has been somehow involved, Including: The French and Indian War, The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Civil War, The Spanish American War, The Mexican American War, World War One, World War Two, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, The Persian Gulf War, and into the ongoing War Against "Terror". Pacifism is the refusal to participate in any violent actions and or killing. This can be derived from the belief that all life is sacred and that it is morally wrong to take another persons life. This may apply to all war and violent actions against all others as well (Becker 925). Pacifism may be derived from personal or religious beliefs. There are many religions and religious groups that include pacifism as core beliefs in their teachings. Quakerism teaches that people have the light of God within them, and therefore it would be wrong to harm another person (Pearson 1). The Quaker Declaration of Pacifism states: "We utterly deny all outward wars and strife, and fighting's with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretense whatever; this is our testimony to the whole world. The Spirit of Christ by which we are guided is not changeable, so as once to command us from a thing as evil, and again to move unto it; and we certainly know, and testify to the world, that the Spirit of Christ, which leads us into all truth, will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for the kingdoms of this world." ( The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a pacifist organization started in 1917 by young Quakers who did not wish to fight in World War One due to their religious beliefs. They provided conscientious objectors with opportunities to aid civilians in Europe during the war. The AFSC is a Quaker nonprofit organization that works on social justice issues throughout the world (also called the Religious Society of Friends) (Pearson 1). "The American Friends Service Committee is a practical...

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