When I was a teenager the Vietnam War was raging. The draft was consuming humans sending them off to kill or be killed.
War is ugly. I wanted nothing to do with it. If my number was to be called I knew it would be a problem for me and my family. I was born a year after this war started and now years later potentially faced a short lived life. All for what?
Raised by a mother who declared that if any of her sons were called to war she was ready to move us to Canada. I knew at an early age I would not be able to point a weapon at another living being and pull the trigger.
If the call came I knew I would stand up for my rights as a “Conscientious Objector.”
Rights that had reached back in history all the way to Maximilianus who was conscripted into the Roman army in the year 295. He told the Proconsul in Numidia that because of his religious convictions he could not serve in the military. He was executed for his act of resistance.
In 1948 the United Nations created Article 18, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In this was the right to “conscience.” It stated, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Throughout the 1960s a new consciousness came to light. It birthed the ecology movement and a massive uprising against the Vietnam War. This momentum carried into the 70s with a resolve of youth that helped bring an end to the war.
A few years before the war actually ended the draft was stopped. None too soon as the next year I would have been of age to be conscripted.
Even though the Declaration of Human Rights existed it was still not recognized as a true freedom to resist war. In 1993 explicit clarification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 18 was made in the United Nations Human Rights Committee general comment 22, Paragraph 11; “The Covenant does not explicitly refer to a right to conscientious objection, but the Committee believes that such a right can be derived from article 18, inasmuch as the obligation to use lethal force may seriously conflict with the freedom of conscience and the right to manifest one’s religion or beliefs.”
Fast forward to today. There is a new movement afoot led again by the youth who are listening to their inner voices and standing up for their rights.
Today’s most visible Conscientious Objector who has taken her stand wholeheartedly is Greta Thunberg. She recognizes there is a war raging against this planet that is killing off our only resource for life. She has embodied eons of wisdom and years of research by many to know that this path of blind obedience to the notions of progress and consumption will ruin us all and the generations to come.
What does it mean to be conscientious? To be conscientious and to object to something?
It seems to be an act of will. To leverage the freedom of thought to go against the grain, the norm. To take action in your beliefs so they align with your thoughts. To believe in something so strongly you are willing to risk your life’s journey towards an unknown.
This is where we stand now. Objecting to the ills our civilization, cultures and habits have led us to this very day. Threats we have know about for years yet have taken little action to stave off.
What I would like to know now is what does a “Conscientious Agreement” look like? Now that we know what we know, we will need to move past the objecting and on to agreeing on what needs to be done.
Is there such a notion for a frame of mind that nurtures us into a mindful practice of synergy, collaboration and cooperation that can heal and move us into a healthy future we can all embrace?
What say ye…
What is the Conscientious Agreement we need to move forward as stewards of tomorrow?
Mark’s Myth is an exploration into the synergies of ideas… riffs blending wordplay, story telling, technology and the arts weaving together a tapestry of synapses and milestones.