Contentious Objector

Vajradhara

One of Many
Messages
3,786
Reaction score
48
Points
48
Location
Seattle, WA
Namaste all,

i'm curious.. what your views are towards those who choose not to fight in their countries wars?

is there honor in being a contentious objector? is there scorn attached to such individuals?

is a contentious objector "un-patriotic"?
 
eh... i'll answer my own query and see where it goes...

my view is that war is unacceptable. as such, i would now consider myself to be a contentious objector.

which, given my personal history, is altogether strange. you see... i did serve in the military.. and for many years had no issues with the actions that i was required to perform. not any longer.

yes, i do believe that there is honor in being a contentious objector... i feel that honor is a matter of putting your personally held convictions to the test and remaining comitted to them. as such, if you really believe that taking life is wrong, it is honorable to resist doing so.

yes, i do think that in certain communities, the contenious objector is ridiculed and considered un-patriotic. what i find very interesting is that often these are religious communities that hold this view.... which is altogether fascinating to me.

i realize that many religions don't have the same proscriptions that mine has with regards to killing living beings... even so... i find it hard to imagine that religons that purport to be peace-loving, promote war as an acceptable means of enacting political will.
 
Kindest Regards, Vaj!

May I presume you mean "conscientious objector?" Contentious would be an act of contending, which in a very broad sense would include war.

Unless of course, this was a deliberate play on words. :)

A lot depends, in my view, of where a person is actually coming from in espousing conscientious views. There are those that claim conscientious objection to mask cowardice.

Just as well, there are those conscientious objectors that contribute to a patriotic effort without shedding blood on a battlefield.

An example of the first would be those that run and hide to avoid national service in time of need. I will leave the term "time of need" open to interpretation for the moment. If that individual has the nerve and gaul to belittle and berate those that have taken upon themselves to serve their nation, that person is a coward. Spitting on returning troops and slandering their names and honor is cowardice.

An example of the last might be those that contribute by serving as medical corpsmen (and women), putting together care packages, or even as simple a thing as thanking the vets for their sacrifices and keeping them in one's prayers and thoughts.

Serving in a military capacity is not for everyone, as I'm sure you figured out. I am thankful everyday to and for those that have the wherewithal, intestinal fortitude and stamina to serve in the capacity to protect and defend our way of life.

War is not something to be desired, but it is a very real matter that must occasionally be dealt with. The alternative to military protection is surrender, which in my mind is unthinkable. Especially under provocation.

I do support our troops, regardless of the political connotations and games.

I would ask a simple question for enlightenment, if you would allow me.

What would you do if you or your family were attacked, and you did have the means available to defend yourself (and family)?

Perhaps one more is in order, since we are on the subject. Are the martial arts considered extentions of Buddhism, Taoism, both or neither?
 
Namaste Juan,


thank you for the post.

must have been a Fruedian slip :)

is the patrioic effort sole confined to federal military service? can one demonstrate their patriotic nature by volunteering for federal job corps or the Peace Corps?

being an ex military person.. one of the things that really got under my skin.. and still does to a certain extent is the so-called patriotism that was suddenly manifest after 9/11. i guess i'm just odd in this way... i'd rather a person feel patriotic about their nation, if they are inclined to do so, due to the positive things that have happened in their life, not just because something terrible happens.

now.. to get to your queries...

the martial arts (and i'm presuming you mean the styles that are weapon-less) are not extensions of Buddhism or Taoism, per se, rather, both these traditions lend themselves quite readily to weapon-less, non-lethal methods of defense.

what would i do were my family attacked? that's a good question.. and one that every seriously needs to ponder if they take a firm stance on non-violence.

i suppose... that i should reveal the operand for my decision matrix in this instance... my goal and motivation in these issues is to prevent each being from delaying their awakening by any means that i can.

that being said.. i would try to talk the situation through and resolve it through non-violent means. if that failed, i would try to defend my family though non-lethal means.

if i was, through some odd chance, left in a situation where i only had a lethal means of defense at my disposal.. the question would come down to how many people were going to be killed. if it was just myself and a criminal.... i'm not sure.. i think i'd let them kill me... if it were my family and a criminal... i think that i'd kill the criminal and deal with the karmic reprecussions of the taking of a life rather than have the criminal deal with the karmic reprecussions of taking multiple lives.
 
Quite a contentious conscientious objector, then? :)

That was quite a slip. :)

As for replying - I keep trying to think upon it. Actually, I have though about this quite a lot before.

When it comes to picked out fights such as the Iraq War - had they ever needed to call people up to fight, I would have refused.

However, if we were living in the experience of World War II, I would find it extraordinarily difficult not to take part. Even though I do not believe in killing people, or causing harm, at some point culture and the life experience has to sweep you up for when communal needs appear to outwiegh individualprinciples.
 
LOL... i know... i am wondering how it came to be.... oh... wait a tic... i know...

i was reading the Baha'i position on this matter prior to posting.... that must be why it came out all wrong.... but.. maybe not so wrong.. now that i recollect that...

in any event... it would be a more difficult position to find oneself in given, say WW2 or 1 for that matter... and perhaps, it would be different if my country was being invaded... i cannot say at this time.

what i can say though.. is that even during those times.. there are things to do that don't require killing... being a medic is a very helpful thing, in my opinion... and you usually don't have to kill anybody.

;)
 
Kindest Regards, Vaj!
Vajradhara said:
is the patrioic effort sole confined to federal military service?
Not in my mind. What of firefighters, police, paramedics, mentors?
can one demonstrate their patriotic nature by volunteering for federal job corps or the Peace Corps?
Philosophically, yes. Legally, I don't know.
i'd rather a person feel patriotic about their nation, if they are inclined to do so, due to the positive things that have happened in their life, not just because something terrible happens.
I quite agree. There was a lot of sniping back and forth over the "explosion" of patriotism immediately after 9-11. I ended up with a bit of a tale out of that. I had just purchased a beautiful necktie with the stars and stripes and an eagle head on it, intending to wear it on certain holidays for the Veteran's Hospital where I work. I had the thing less than a week when 9-11 happened, and I went to work a day or so later wearing that tie. I did it as a show of support, at the time they were still digging in the vain hope of finding survivors. Shortly after that day, flags started showing up all over the place, which I thought soon got to be a bit much. I don't think I ever wore that tie again, it is still in my closet.
I was a color-guard in the Boy Scouts, and I learned to take flag etiquette very seriously. What irks me most was all of the advertising and commercial use of the flag, as well as improper display and irreverent treatment of it, too often by those who should know better.
I'll climb down off my soapbox now.
i think that i'd kill the criminal and deal with the karmic reprecussions of the taking of a life rather than have the criminal deal with the karmic reprecussions of taking multiple lives.
This is not what I expected to hear, and yet it makes sense.
 
Usually it takes more courage to resist the use of violence than to take up arms. Gandhi encouraged his followers to develop the spiritual capacity to oppose evil without violence.

But he also said that if one did not have the strength and confidence to be non-violent it was better to resist with weapons than not at all.


My feeling is that generally we jump into violence too soon without truly attempting a non-violent solution. Also that history shows consistently that violence is never more than a short-term solution since it always engenders more violence.

I think also that we have too few well-known heroes of non-violence. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are about the only names people know. Yet most of us can name several prominent generals and war heroes. I would like to see schools lifting up models of non-violent conflict resolution and a good supply of books and films for children on people who have refused to use violence.

I think another thing we forget, when speaking of courage, is that the non-violent way is not risk-free and those who adopt it are often martyred. Gandhi and King were both assassinated. Last summer there was the young American woman (Rachel ?--can't remember last name) who was murdered by an Israeli soldier who deliberately ran his bulldozer over her.

btw---in the US and Canada, Labour Day is celebrated the first Monday in September. All other countries (and the Catholic Church) observe Labour Day on May 1. Anyone know why May 1? and why the US avoids it?

Hint: has to do with this topic of non-violence vs. violence.
 
Kindest Regards, Vaj!

Quick question. Does Buddhism allow a distinction between killing and murder? The two are not synonymous, at least not in my understanding.
 
juantoo3 said:
Kindest Regards, Vaj!

Quick question. Does Buddhism allow a distinction between killing and murder? The two are not synonymous, at least not in my understanding.
Namaste Juan,

thank you for the post.

yes, Buddhism does allow for a difference in killing and murder... though.. i suppose i might have to clarify what "allow" may mean in this situation.

let me say it like this... yes, there is a distinction betwixt murder and killing in Buddhism. in either case, however, the being that perpetrated the act will have to deal with the karmic reprecussions.

remember... in the Buddhist tradition it is taught that every action, good, bad or indifferent, small or large, will be accounted for when the right conditions and circumstances are present.
 
Kindest Regards, Vaj!
Vajradhara said:
remember... in the Buddhist tradition it is taught that every action, good, bad or indifferent, small or large, will be accounted for when the right conditions and circumstances are present.
So, other than semantical details, is this not similar to the Christian tradition?

Ah, I think I see one difference. The concept of repentance and forgiveness. I do understand that even if we repent and are forgiven, we still carry the burden of our "bad choices," which I understand to be in line essentially with the Karmic teaching, although such understanding is not universally taught across Christianity.

If this is too far off topic, let me know.
 
juantoo3 said:
Kindest Regards, Vaj!
So, other than semantical details, is this not similar to the Christian tradition?

Ah, I think I see one difference. The concept of repentance and forgiveness. I do understand that even if we repent and are forgiven, we still carry the burden of our "bad choices," which I understand to be in line essentially with the Karmic teaching, although such understanding is not universally taught across Christianity.

If this is too far off topic, let me know.
Namaste Juan,

thank you for the post.

eh... i don't know if it's too far of topic or not...

the essential difference is that we are not judged in any fashion.. it's not an account of deeds that takes place after death... one's karmic energy rather propels one towards their rebirth.

iirc, the Christian tradition posits that there is a life review of some type wherein the individual is judged based, depending on what you believe, either on their belief in Jesus or their belief in Jesus and their good deeds.

this is all completely foreign to Buddhism.

now... to throw a wrench into the mix....

remember... in the ultimate sense.... for the Buddhist.... beings aren't born and they don't die.... thus, you cannot cause a being to cease to be... only that being itself, can create the causes and conditions for it to cease. so... as i answer your query... i do so from the conventional perspective.. and that's probably the way to go about having a conversation.... however, my mind is such that it constantly views things from the ultimate perspective.... cycling between both views.
 
Kindest Regards, Vaj!
Vajradhara said:
the essential difference is that we are not judged in any fashion.. it's not an account of deeds that takes place after death... one's karmic energy rather propels one towards their rebirth.
I think I understand this, which is why I made the comment about semantical differences. In the Christian tradition, one's future destiny and path is dictated by the present and former actions, motivations and deeds. My understanding of the Buddhist tradition as you have described sounds very similar in this regard, one's future destiny and path is dictated by the present and former actions, motivations and deeds.
Buddhism (my understanding), does not recognize God as such, but does seem to recognize a greater power encompassing all. Christianity allows for "repentance" for misdeeds, granting "brownie points" so to speak, in which God overlooks the specific deed(s), yet the "sinner" still bears the scars of the sins. An alcoholic, as a very rough example, might be forgiven alcoholism, but would still bear the scars on "his" liver. It is this concept of forgiveness I believe to be foreign to Buddhism, but the concept of bearing the scars of one's "sins" seems to be elemental to your description, if not now then in a future life. Is this correct?

???

the Christian tradition posits that there is a life review of some type wherein the individual is judged...
Understood. Whereas, rather than a "judge" to direct traffic, some form of automatic pilot or rheostat or elemental control directs the same energy manifestation that equates between the two disciplines as "soul," yes? Different traffic cop analogies between the two traditions, yet traffic is still routed and directed.

remember... in the ultimate sense.... for the Buddhist.... beings aren't born and they don't die.... thus, you cannot cause a being to cease to be... only that being itself, can create the causes and conditions for it to cease. so... as i answer your query... i do so from the conventional perspective.. and that's probably the way to go about having a conversation.... however, my mind is such that it constantly views things from the ultimate perspective.... cycling between both views.
If things aren't born and don't die, then what purpose and why the emphasis on karma. Maybe better stated, why the emphasis on Karma if in the end it really doesn't matter anyway? Even in considering the comment "only that being itself, can create the causes and conditions for it to cease," (which I presume to imply nirvana, or my understanding of it), if energy (and by extension, matter) cannot be destroyed, then either nirvana is an impossible goal, or it is merely the place to begin everything all over again. Which returns me to my earlier question, why, if it doesn't really matter anyway?

Please understand, I mean absolutely no offense, my question is genuine and sincere. I just don't understand.
 
Kindest Regards, Gluadys!
gluadys said:
Usually it takes more courage to resist the use of violence than to take up arms.
Yes, although I would add that much is dependent on whether or not one is free to pick and choose their battles. Which I suspect is why Gandhi might say something like this...
But he also said that if one did not have the strength and confidence to be non-violent it was better to resist with weapons than not at all.
:)

My feeling is that generally we jump into violence too soon without truly attempting a non-violent solution. Also that history shows consistently that violence is never more than a short-term solution since it always engenders more violence.
At the level of the individual, violence is often an expression of frustration by those who can think of no better way to communicate.

I think also that we have too few well-known heroes of non-violence. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are about the only names people know. Yet most of us can name several prominent generals and war heroes. I would like to see schools lifting up models of non-violent conflict resolution and a good supply of books and films for children on people who have refused to use violence.
This is acceptable, provided it is not at the expense of "prominent generals and war heroes."

*"Hmmm," he says, "then again, a docile population is easier to control and manipulate..."*

I think another thing we forget, when speaking of courage, is that the non-violent way is not risk-free and those who adopt it are often martyred. Gandhi and King were both assassinated.
Joan of Arc was martyred too.

btw---in the US and Canada, Labour Day is celebrated the first Monday in September. All other countries (and the Catholic Church) observe Labour Day on May 1. Anyone know why May 1? and why the US avoids it?

Hint: has to do with this topic of non-violence vs. violence.
Seems I recall May 1 being "May Day," which has significance in some pagan religions, at least according to Frazer. Isn't it also a big parade day for Communist countries, showing off their missiles, tanks, guns and such?

Otherwise, I don't know. So, why does the US avoid May 1 as labor day?
 
Hello Vajaradhara -

I’ve been considering your posit for days. Violence never seems a reasonable concept but the following appears logical to me.

I think on an individual and personal level one must decide what is worth physically fighting for. There is no honor in allowing others to fight your fight without your participating in some capacity. Ideals do not stop bombs or bullets. Nonviolence is a noble concept but unfortunately violence is the reality. We choose to respond in kind or we choose to perish but rest assured, those are the only non-philosophical options.
IMO mcedgy
 
juantoo3 said:
It is this concept of forgiveness I believe to be foreign to Buddhism, but the concept of bearing the scars of one's "sins" seems to be elemental to your description, if not now then in a future life. Is this correct?
Namaste Juan,

yes, you are correct. though "sin" isn't the word we'd normally use... try, instead.. unskillful action.

iirc stands for: If I recall correctly... something i've picked up in my internet exploration :)

Understood. Whereas, rather than a "judge" to direct traffic, some form of automatic pilot or rheostat or elemental control directs the same energy manifestation that equates between the two disciplines as "soul," yes? Different traffic cop analogies between the two traditions, yet traffic is still routed and directed.
no soul to direct in our tradition :) other than that term... yes... the energy can perhaps be conceputalized in the same fashion... however... i feel that i'm leaving you with some inaccurate understandings... and i deeply apologize. there is no traffic cop... no indepedent entity.. that directs your karmic energy in any sort of conscious sense. ones karmic energy arises like a shadow clings to form.... it's a completely natural outcome of the process of intending.

If things aren't born and don't die, then what purpose and why the emphasis on karma. Maybe better stated, why the emphasis on Karma if in the end it really doesn't matter anyway? Even in considering the comment "only that being itself, can create the causes and conditions for it to cease," (which I presume to imply nirvana, or my understanding of it), if energy (and by extension, matter) cannot be destroyed, then either nirvana is an impossible goal, or it is merely the place to begin everything all over again. Which returns me to my earlier question, why, if it doesn't really matter anyway?
this is a very good question... and one which i'm only able to give a partial and inadequate answer.

remember our teaching of the two truths? this is going to be an important aspect to grasp to understand why the teachings are as they are. in any event... the Buddha taught the doctrine of karma to sentient beings that believed that their actions had no consequences.. that, "in the end, it doesn't matter." the Buddha rebuked this notion and taught that all intentions produce karma.. in essence, karma is the fruit of our intentions, whether positive, negative or neutral.

for beings that held the mistaken view that our actions are the sole criteria by which we make progress along the spiritual path, the Buddha taught the teaching of Shunyata or Emptiness. where there is no "self" who makes progress along a spiritual path.

one of the really tricky bits that we tend to overlook or misconstrue is that the Buddhist teachings were expounded for a particular group of beings at a particular time and place. as such, not every teaching is applicable for every being... and this has caused a great deal of confusion amongst later Buddhists, especially those that come from the west.

now... the rest of this converstation should, probably, be under one of the religious sections of the site... nevertheless...

nirvana is not the final teaching.. nirvana was taught as a way point.. a resting place, if you will, along the spiritual journey... it is not, however, the destination or goal of the practice. this gets into some rather technical areas of discussion which i'd rather leave aside for now.. at least on this particular section of the site.

let's talk about this bit for a moment... we both understand that energy is matter.. and that energy cannot be destroyed. from the Buddhist view, this means that energy is not born.. for anything born, dies and decays. our consciousness or mind, if you will, is energy... and thus, also, was never born and will not die. this is, of course, a more modern view of this subject.. but one that has a great deal of relevance for a modern person versed in scientific theories.
 
Vajradhara, you said, “our consciousness or mind, if you will, is energy…and thus, also, was never born and will not die.” Fascinating. Do you think that the human personality is of that same energy and therefore survives bodily death?

I know this is getting off subject and if you’d like to respond elsewhere just point me in the right direction. Thanks mcedgy
 
Namaste mcedgy,

thank you for the post.

mcedgy said:
Vajradhara, you said, “our consciousness or mind, if you will, is energy…and thus, also, was never born and will not die.” Fascinating. Do you think that the human personality is of that same energy and therefore survives bodily death?

I know this is getting off subject and if you’d like to respond elsewhere just point me in the right direction. Thanks mcedgy
let's continue this aspect of our conversation here:

http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1055
 
Namaste all...


to continue our thread....

here's the bit that got me going on this and why i was curious as to others with and without a religious belife thought about the matter:

"With reference to the absolute pacifists, or conscientious objectors to war; their attitude, judged from the Baha'i standpoint is quite anti-social and due to its exaltation of the individual conscience leads inevitably to disorder and chaos in society. Extreme pacifists are thus very close to the anarchists, in the sense that both of these groups lay an undue emphasis on the rights and merits of the individual. The Baha'i conception of social life is essentially based on the subordination of the individual will to that of society. It neither suppresses the individual nor does it exalt him to the point of making him an anti-social creature, a menace to society. As in everything, it follows the 'golden mean'. The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow the will of the majority.

"The other main objection to the conscientious objectors is that their method of establishing peace is too negative. Non-cooperation is too passive a philosophy to become an effective way for social reconstruction. Their refusal to bear arms can never establish peace. There should first be a spiritual revitalization which nothing, except the Cause of God, can effectively bring to every man's heart."

(Directives from the Guardian, p. 53-54)

 
Kindest Regards, Vaj!

I'm afraid I haven't taken the time to look at the Ba'hai thread. My religion instills a revulsion and wariness of global government (at least in me), yet in my education I see the expansion of business to a global scale may bring about global government by default. It is a subject I am spiritually torn on, so I have avoided that particular thread.

I am inclined to agree with Lord Acton, "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Stated another way, "More is not necessarily better."

I do not see absolute pacifism as a particularly wise mode of existence. Peace should be, and it is a noble goal to strive for. But it should not be assumed. Human nature being what it is, there will always be those who for reasons of power will seek to exert themselves over others. War, in the philosophical and physical sense, has been with humanity since the first tool was used to procure flesh food. It could be argued that it has been since the first root or tuber was dug. It is a part of nature since the first microbe consumed another.

In the more modern translation, it has existed in humanity since the first tool was diverted to use as a weapon against another human, whether for defense or offense may never be known. Since then, humans have exerted authority other each other by force of arms. As long as we continue to do so, a society of pacifists is merely an easy mark or target.

War is dirty, nasty, ugly. It is unpleasant, as a gross understatement. It is not something to be desired. Yet it is a reality, and one that must be guarded against. It cannot be effectively guarded against with a dogma of unquestioned pacifism.

One more thing quickly. I'm not certain of the context or significance of the quote you cited, but an italicized line disturbs me. "The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow the will of the majority." I have some fundamental problems with this. If this were so, slavery would still exist in its former form. All manner of gross human injustice would not only still exist, it would be further entrenched. There would be no mechanism for social "evolution." The needs and requirements of the majority should be the drive perhaps, but not at the expense of any minority.

My two cents.
 
Back
Top