To Whom It May Concern:
I’m not a naturally rebellious person. I recognize and respect the need for rules, laws and participation in any community (whether that be a classroom, city, country, or globally). It is precisely this understanding that leads me to my decision to withhold some of my federal tax payment. I’ve realized that for too long, I’ve been silently complicit in a rigged game that injures everyone playing. I’ve been cheering for one team while knowing full well that, the rules are skewed to hurt my team and I’ve been paying the refs to enforce those rules and ultimately, handing my team defeat.
However, I also realize that this isn’t a game, and that I have so much blood on my hands that I should be required to wear gloves. I’ve studied the federal budget. I know how the money is spent. More than 50% of the taxes I pay are for nothing uplifting for human beings: weapons that kill, training for soldiers that kill, war-planning and war-making and paying back money from the past that was for the same purpose. War doesn’t work for humans. It would have been unimaginable for someone to ask after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, “Who won that hurricane?” The question doesn’t make sense. I don’t see how the question, “Who won that war?” is any different. There is chaos, death, anxiety, rape, uprooted communities, and a general feeling of uncontrollable fear.
I spend most of my time just getting by, like most people. I work, I spend time with my family, I help out in my community, I make dumb jokes that I wish more people laughed at, I watch football, I even half succeeded in baking a nice loaf of bread last week! I pay many taxes; with every purchase I make, on my paycheck and phone bills. I love that when I turn the handle I get fresh, hot water. I love that the roads I bicycle on to work are paved and that my local recreation center is around so that I can pretend to get in better shape a few days a week. Even my occupation relies heavily on local tax revenues. I am very much for the concept and practice of taxing and spending for the common good.
I, like so many people, wish we could have a more directly democratic process in which to allocate our tax funds. A checklist of budget priorities we could mark down on paper and see it dispersed. I also, like the majority of citizens, am not pro-war and do what I can to stop the preparation and execution of wars.
It saddens me to know that my four nephews and nieces have grown up thinking that war is a natural state for our country. I happily brought my now nine year-old nephew and niece down to Colorado Springs, in February 2003 for the statewide protests against the impending war in Iraq. I was energized by the mass turnout of regular folks (although very disappointed and scared by the unnecessary tear gas from the police). I have written letters to papers, stood on street corners with signs, gone to rallies, called my congresswoman and senators, held candles at vigils, spoke with current and former military folks, listened to Iraqis and others who have been there, and I’m still very frustrated and very sad. It’s made to be so easy to distance oneself from what’s going on. The TV stations have moved on to other topics but the people most affected have not: Iraqis, Afghanis, soldiers and their families. How do I reconcile to my young nephew and niece the apparent disconnect between the rising death tolls from war and the falling “interest” of citizens they saw at that rally towards ending war?
Regardless of how attached or distant one might feel from these seemingly endless wars, we just keep paying and paying for them. Well, I’m not going to do it anymore! It’s just wrong, and the main obstacle to doing this earlier has been fear. Because like I stated, I’m good at doing what I’m told and what seems appropriate. I don’t want to be an outcast or someone that ruffles feathers for no good reason. But this IS a good reason. I know it interrupts the pleasant order of polite interactions, however I’d rather face an awkward moment or conversation with an acquaintance than another year of murdered children and bombed restaurants. I know this action is illegal, but paying for illegal war is illegal as well. There has to be a stop to this madness, this addiction to war.
The building next [to] my work is a soup kitchen. I’d say a large majority of the men (though there are plenty of women and families walking in and out of there as well) hanging around are homeless and veterans. Many are dealing with disabilities, mental health issues, and continuing trauma from their experiences in war. The idea that war “ends” just doesn’t seem to apply to the real world. A banner proclaiming victory, or a deadline when occupying troops leave an area does not make a war “over”. We have decades to go in the process of dealing with war, so let’s get started now. I listened attentively in school and learned to actively participate in my community. I’m trying to demonstrate that now, by not paying a portion of my federal taxes, and I only regret that I hadn’t done it sooner. My conscience guides me to do what I can to begin treating our national sickness and I support anyone else that feels compelled to act on his or her conscience as well.