Starting to Live by My Own Rules

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By Angie Morben

I’ve always been such a rule-follower. As I look back on life, I realize how much I blindly followed the rules simply because they had been established by some higher “authority.” I was that way throughout childhood and all the way into adulthood. This rule-following behavior included unquestionably paying my taxes without the full knowledge of what I was paying for.

I’m now learning that many aspects of our government have always been a little (or a lot) crazy throughout history. Until recently I’d been in somewhat of a bubble, really not aware of the intricacies of politics and many world issues. However, the absolute insanity of the past few years has really forced me to take a good look at how our government is run, who the key players are, how our history has shaped us as a country, and — importantly — where my tax dollars are going.

The more I learned, the more uneasy I became. In particular, I started to think of war in terms that were no longer just abstract—I started to think about how my actual physical dollars are helping to train someone to kill someone else, or to develop/buy weapons that will kill someone. I also learned how U.S. military endeavors are contributing to environmental destruction—it’s horrifying. I truly started to see human beings all over the world as something more than just statistics on paper, and I started to feel ill. These are human lives, just like mine. Every last one of them. For years, I’ve been playing a part in funding war with my tax dollars. Not anymore. About a year and a half ago, I started the process of figuring out my best strategy as a war tax resister, and I’m still pondering all the details. There’s a lot to learn, but it’s an exciting movement, and one I’m proud to be part of.

I can’t predict the consequences of my tax resistance, but I’m finding that the consequences scare me less as time goes on. I find a lot of courage in the words and writings of well-established resisters. I consistently remind myself these days that despite my past rule-following behavior, I can now start making my own rules on how to live my life based on what’s really important to me. In fact, it feels like my responsibility to ensure that my actions are consistent with what I believe to be morally right without, as Juanita Nelson said, “waiting for 150 million others to concur.”