i like this think piece.
i urge each of us to record our opposition to war at
As i thanked a friend for passing it along, i
discussed related issues, and i realized i needed to
talk some of those over. Let's start with what i
wrote already, in hopes of widening the dialogue.
Thanks again for being willing to discuss a variety of
issues with me.
i share very many of his (Velvel's) opinions, though i
doubt he'll be very convincing to those who don't. i
recorded my statenment "Include me out", at that
website, and i will also forward this essay.
In the 1980's opposition to pretexter Reagan&co.'s
central american wars, we said, "Not In My Name, Not
In Our Names". As war tax refusers, it was an easy
detourn to add "Not With Our Dollars". i don't think
"Include our dollars out" has quite the same soundbite
ring. How else could we say it?
Even in these times of spreading stains of pretexting,
many of my friends, allies, and family members talk to
me exclusively about their fears for any trouble i
might get in for refusing war taxes, to the exclusion
of any trouble caused by the taxes and their nefarious
uses. i generally think "exclusive" is a dirty word,
a word preferred by white male country clubs. Only a
few mention the basis in conscience that has driven me
to such refusal, and even some who have mentioned it
fail to consistently consider it a religious issue.
None at all see my refusal/redirection (i pay the
amount, but elsewhere for peaceful purposes) as
ordinary and simple. Sigh.
i myself sometimes fall into thinking i am doing
something special just because it is so rare and
misunderstood, and this gives me yet another
opportunity to work on humility.
i have friends who think i am free to choose to pay
up, who forget the commandment quality that started my
refusal, and which remains its context.
Other traditions have worded this commandment Thou
Shalt Not Kill. All my adult life (and probably
inchoately earlier) i have felt the urgings of a
Goddess: She says refuse to make war, refuse to kill
in war, refuse to pay for war; She loves me and the
innocents (animals and plants are sacred to Her and
innocent of war) and She hates war. While it is true
that within the commandment there is room for some
strategizing, it must be strategizing toward keeping
the commandment, not breaking it. The
drumbeat/heartbeat continues: Intently She calls me to
separate myself from the making of war. Insistently
She calls me to separate myself from the paying for
war. i must obey.
Apparently my religious focus has too ancient or
archaic or unsophisticated a quality to be fully
acknowledged by modernist thinking, and some who think
they are supporting me make suggestions i am not free
to consider. Of course, i should expect some
difficulties in communication as part of obedience, so
i try to be kind, and look for opportunities to be
seen more clearly.
It is true that the political climate has no effect on
my feeling commanded to withdraw from war; i was as
opposed to Clinton in Kosovo as i am to Bush in Iraq
(and, it seems, Iran). More difficult for many
friends, i would be just as opposed to a military
response to a very clear case of genocide, and just as
opposed to armed revolutionary struggle. i am a real
pacifist, and that is not dependent on this week's
political weather. But i do expect that the political
climate would have some effect on how my loved ones
talk to me about war taxes, how they see them, how
they contextualize refusal. For me, one of the side
effects has been a liberating transformation of the
fear (terror) of the IRS under which most ordinary
Unfortunately, this side effect does not seem to rub
off on my friends, even as they stay near me through
decades of successful and active refusal. i'm not
writing from jail, i've never been to jail for this
(plenty else, but NOT war taxes), they have never even
taken money or property from me, and i am in my 26th
year of refusal. 26 years of peace taxpaying! They
operate by striking terror into the population, and
the terrorized population obeys, even though there is
nowhere near enough enforcement for even a fraction of
them. i have a different obedience.
i struggle with each ant's responsibility for the
crimes of the anthill. How to truly, fully, say
"Include me out"?
Include me out. i refuse to be implicated in their
crimes. i will not pay for war. i refuse all federal
tax now, and so long as it buys war, as i have done
for the last 26 years. Include me out. Include my