After Roseburg: On guns big and bigger

To the Editor:

There has been another mass murder shooting in Roseburg, Oregon.

A question stares us in the face.

Can we expect to endorse mass homicide on the wholesale level and successfully forbid or prevent it on the retail level?

As a thought experiment or moral reflection consider this.

Banner by Coleman Smith. Photo by Carlos Steward.
Banner by Coleman Smith. Photo by Carlos Steward.

Since World War II our society has justified mass killing as a way to restrain evil and improve the world.  Most egregiously we have incinerated two Japanese cities and ever since touted MAD — Mutual Assured Destruction — as normal and sane.  Most of our best known Christian theologians and preachers have justified the possession and use of nuclear weapons and every new invention of  military hardware and the pursuit of global military domination.

The local paper never misses a chance to celebrate wars of the past and praise those who have killed human beings around the world in the name of one or another higher good.

The public, including our children, are supposed to think that all of this makes sense, is normal, rational and moral.

You could just as well produce a sane population by insisting that 2 + 2 does not equal 4.  Everybody consulting their own mind knows it is 4, just as everybody consulting their own conscience knows that killing people is morally degraded and degrading, but the culture, agreeing with the nation state, says it is not, so the individual tries to twist their own mind and conscience to agree with this distortion.

Hello!  It is not working.  Is anybody noticing that it is not working?

We are capable of doing immensely better than this, but where is the leadership to affirm the inherited sanity in all of us?

John K. Stoner

Submitted as Letter-to-the-Editor 10/4/2015.

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Driving Ms. Frances

By Ralph Dolan

I runs this high-end chauffeur service, see, and gets this call. Lady on the other end of the line wants a ride across the border into Vermont. Can’t get much of an idea what kind of meeting she could possibly be attending up there in the back woods.

I pick her up and she’s just nice. I love her immediately with a conviction that makes no sense. She’s gracious, know what I mean. Beautiful.

When I get her there I start snooping around, see. Maybe it’s some kind of subversive organization. Maybe these people are taking advantage of this nice old lady.

I creep up to an open window where these people are meeting. There’s something fishy going on.

New England War Tax Resistance Gathering 2013. Photo by Ed Hedemann
New England War Tax Resistance Gathering 2013. Photo by Ed Hedemann

They’re talking about refusing to pay income tax. Some of them are even talking about taking the money they owe in income tax each year and giving it to some other cause — “worthy” they keep saying, like peace, poverty or to help someone in hardship.

This I can’t believe. Treason, it is for sure. Undermining the authority of the U.S. government in its sacred office of controlling every facet of our lives. Where do these people get off!

I put my ear up closer to the window and am surprised to hear them talking about how morally, ethically impossible it is for them to pay money into a fund that finances the horror of war, torture and the denial of certain inalienable human rights of its citizens.

I’m appalled, see, like any good American would be.

I become more convinced that this nice old lady has sadly come under the influence of some sinister cult. And I’m bound to save her from such perfidy.

I put my ear closer and am surprised to learn that my nice old lady isn’t acting like she’s being taken advantage of at all. In fact, I’d have to say she was carrying on like she’s one of the group’s ring-leaders — spurring the group on, as it were, to commit acts of civil disobedience.

Poor nice old lady corrupted by sinister forces intent upon subverting the dominant paradigm of American imperialism. Shameful!

I spy further and see that there’s something strange about all these other people. I hate to admit but they all seem, well nice. Big tough guy like me, all red white and blue, saying people talking treason are nice. Never happen!

But standing there spying through the window upon this meeting I get feeling like church. It’s not a church at all, mind you. There’s no steeple or anything. It’s just a feeling. Somehow I don’t feel so lonely and these people, they could be my brothers and sisters. I could give them all a hug.

Damn this is hard to admit!

So the meeting ends and I’m taking this nice old lady back across the border. I’m feeling good and babbling like an idiot about, I don’t know, life in general. She’s listening and saying words that are nice to hear like music. And instead of my saving this poor old lady from a cult, or driving her to the police station to get arrested for treason, I’m saying to myself, “I love this lady. I truly do.”

Frances Crowe at home in Western Massachusetts in 2013. Photo by Ed Hedemann
Frances Crowe at home in Western Massachusetts in 2013. Photo by Ed Hedemann

We get to her house and I’m letting her out of the car. As she’s walking away I say, “Hey, what’s your name anyway.”

She says, “Frances Crowe.”

Ralph Dolan lives in Easthampton, Massachusetts. He wrote this story in September 2013.

Everyone interested in war tax resistance is invited to the next New England Gathering, October 16-18, 2015, in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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Another Look: “Death and Taxes” The Film

Even 5 years after its initial release, Death & Taxes is still relevant to anyone trying to become more involved in the peace movement.

Death and Taxes coverThe film is a wonderful, light-hearted telling of the lives many war tax resisters have lived and how it doesn’t take much more than a belief to start protesting for peace. The men and women featured express their convictions about ending war with grace and firmness.

Although not much with military spending has changed since each began resisting, the group of war tax resisters is still strong. Their inspiration comes from the heart, from a commitment toward ideals and a dedication to holding themselves to a standard that requires discipline and courage.Colorado Springs poster

Death & Taxes is proof that this belief and dedication to nonviolence still exists and will never end.

To seek peace we must not contradict ourselves. It is necessary, for all of us, to face fear of arrest, losing our homes, and any other threat in order to state to the United States governments and the governments of the world that paying for war is never acceptable. This film proves that you are not cheating out on paying your taxes by doing this, but you are simply living extra consciously and re-directing those taxes to organizations that truly fund the greater good and promote quality-of-life, rather than taking quantities of lives.

For anyone who struggles with paying for war, I recommend to them Death & Taxes. This film educates a person on how they too can live by ways of peaceful means, causing no harm to life on earth.

Post by Justin Becker
NWTRCC Intern/Assistant

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