Great movements, transformative changes, start somewhere. They can start here.
Our MP is speaking for me proposing the Conscientious Objection Act enabling people who believe that killing is unjustifiable to redirect tax dollars from war making to forms of peace-making. I am thankful to be part of a region where people from many traditions have the courage to question the ways our dollars, action and inaction make us responsible for destruction or protection of humans and our habitat.
In this high tech era our dollars, more than our bodies, are conscripted to serve the military. Questions arise about our responsibility when in the past decade’s wars more children than soldiers have been killed. On the Conscience Canada website (ConscienceCanada.ca) we can see global military spending this year — quickly racing past $1.5 trillion — the millions speed by continuously, faster than cents at the gas pump. Nearly half comes from US taxpayers. Canada’s taxpayers supported the doubling of our military budget (with greater integration with the US) in the past seven years to over $21 billion while in this era of catastrophic climate change, the budget for Environment Canada remained flat. The projected $29 billion and climbing cost of the F-35 stealth fighter jets and $35 billion for warships are almost double the our national deficit. Some of us can find the courage to choose, individually and as countries (Switzerland and Costa Rica have no military), to stop funding the military’s approach.
We see that nonviolent efforts arouse support. Violent tactics boomerang and discredit the users. The old might makes right paradigm is changing. We expect better behaviour than violence or fear tactics in our relationships in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities. More of the world’s conflicts, too, have been solved by negotiation than by military imposition.
Are we on the doorstep to de-legitimizing war?
With many challenges ahead, funds freed from the military can instead create jobs to help heal people damaged by the trauma of committing or receiving violence, to teach problem-solving skills and alternatives to violence, to help heal the environment and to convert to a green economy. We can employ the brave and daring would-be soldiers to save lives, rescue humans and animals, and create provisions for care of climate refugees.
Only one per cent of us willingly kill other humans. Most of these few take orders from and protect the interests of the other richest one per cent. We’re asking each soldier and cop to stand with us, the 99 per cent. We’re asking the one per cent to join us, too, ending corruption and putting wealth and power into fair distribution of resources and a sustainable environment. Feeling the stirrings of hope, of consciences lifted locally and globally and the moral courage of people gathering together in country after country gives us the opportunity to question assumptions and reset priorities. We’ve got creative life-saving, planet-saving work which we can do together.