Water Man Spouts

Sunday, January 16, 2005

C.O.: Questions for American Youth

The following information is based on the "What Do I Believe About War?" pamphlet that NISBCO published in the 1980s. Known today as The Center on Conscience & War, they can be found at: 1830 Connecticut Avenue, NW; Washington, DC, 20009; telephone: 202-483-2220; e-mail: nisbco@nisbco.org ; URL: http://www.nisbco.org

Elsewhere on this blog, I explain why I believe that people from the grassroots contribute to CCW.

There are three questions that young people should be considering, which will be important in helping to show a draft board that they are Conscientious Objectors. None of the three questions are easy to answer. I do not think that many people of any age could simply sit down and answer these without first giving them hours of thought. Thus, young people should take time to give these serious attention.

NISBCO advises people to talk to their relatives, teachers, and ministers/rabbis/clerics. Think of the influences that have helped develop your personal belief system. Remember, Conscientious Objection is a deep conviction, motivated by conscience, that prevents a person from participating in war. This conviction is based upon deeply held moral, ethical, and/or religious beliefs, which play a significant role in your day-to-day life.

Question #1: Describe the beliefs which are the basis for your claim for classification as a Conscientious Objector, including whether these beliefs would allow you to serve in a noncombatant position in the armed forces?

(This question asks you to describe in detail the basic principles that you claim guide your life. They can include religious beliefs and/or an ethical belief system. I suggest making a list of the principles and influences that are important to you; making an outline; and practice putting these thoughts into an "essay" form.)

Question #2: Describe how you acquired these beliefs.

(In answering this, include things such as formal religious training; people who have influenced your way of thinking; books you have read, or classes you have taken, that have helped you develop your belief system; and any specific experiences that have influenced your belief system.)

Question #3: Describe how your beliefs affect the way you live today, and the type of job/career you are hoping for?

(This is often the most difficult of the three questions for young people to answer. The answers do not have to describe "huge" events. Perhaps you have sent an anti-war letter to the editor of your local newspaper; attended an anti-war rally; considered a career in human services; said prayers for the innocent victims of wars; or any number of similar examples.)


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