And there is a man in Iraq I can't stop thinking about, and there is a man in Japan who's so very lucky that he's there, and there is a Marine whose father let us know not too long ago that he's still alive and doing well in Baghdad, and my family left Denmark in the early 1900's because of the war. My family have been conscientious objectors and pacifists since I can remember. My uncle did not serve in Viet Nam; he went to Africa for two years to teach the people there instead, and should there be a military draft for women implemented, I will seek alternative service. I have always intended to.
But I do not despise the men and women who choose to serve. I do not hate them for making a choice that I will not - that I cannot - make. I would be a poor soldier, were I to be forced into service. I would be a worse soldier than I was a vacuum cleaner salesperson, for I lack the capacity to value my life over some anonymous stranger's in a helmet. And all the ideals in the world, all the ideals of honour, freedom, country and company - if those ideals were to fill in and support that capacity, I would not be who I am. Those who serve now, at home and abroad, have made that choice and have that capacity, and in this world of grief and pain and injustice I am glad that they can do so. My heart breaks for the horrors they face, and for the obligate death in some tiny way of humanity when war is chosen by any party. And their strength and their dedication has so much capacity to build up, if that were the aim of the government at whose whim they move. I wish that such were the aim.
I will serve, if I am called to service. I will serve, and I will not walk away. I will seek alternative service with all the energy at my disposal, and if that means I go to the very zone of the war to "die building something", I will have good company in those who have done so before. And if I do not find alternative service, I will seek noncombatant status, and if I am denied that, I will make it clear what kind of hazard my beliefs pose to the men and women who work beside me, for I believe that if it were forced upon me I would act for the aggregate; I would do what I had to for the safety of those who fought next to me.
But I do not know if I would survive that doing.
Perhaps I am a coward for this. Perhaps I am every nasty name that conscientious objectors have ever been called. Perhaps it is all true. But I am willing to stand up for those beliefs; I am willing to die for those beliefs. I am willing to go to a war zone to practice healing in the hope that one day I will make a difference. I see my sisters-in-law going to war-torn and broken countries to minister, and I am so proud. And I must act in concordance with my beliefs, and hope that one day it will be a realistic possibility for everyone to make the same choice.
I will work toward that future. As shall we all.
I love you, butterfly. Come home safe.