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Problem of war
A letter to my son

July 11, 2007

I want you to know how very much I love you, how much I have always loved you since the very day you were born. From that moment on I have given you my best as a father. I taught you everything I knew, everything you needed to know in order that you might one day become a man.

However, during the past few years the world has changed, and as a result I, as well, have changed. When you were but a child, I believed that a man had no choice but to love, honor, and respect his country, that one should, without question, obey the laws of his land. Since that time, however, I have come to believe that there is something of much greater value ... that of doing the will of God. Rather than meticulously carrying out the rather capricious commands of those who administer the affairs of this world, I suggest that you set for yourself a more demanding task, one of doing what you can to create a world of peace, love, and justice, that you do your best to serve a much higher calling, that of being a servant of your fellowman, one dedicated to the best interests of the human race.

During the past six years (ever since that of 9-11) our world has been transformed into a seeming “holocaust of horrors,” a world in which our president speaks of “wars without end.” For your own welfare as a human being, I ask that you take the time to listen to what I have to say, for how you respond may well determine if you become a man of honor, one controlled by the inner voice of his conscience, or that of an automaton, a mere piece of machinery, an inanimate cog, doing what it has been told to do.

The lesson of Nuremberg (a set of trials in which an International Military Tribunal convicted Nazi leaders for having committed crimes against humanity, for having essentially followed orders to wage war against their fellowman) was quite clear; human beings are sacred. We, each and every one of us, are more than mere citizens, more than the holders of a simple deed on “a petty piece of property.” We are shareholders of a much greater assemblage. We are members of the human race, each having laid claim to the one and same God. As such we must not allow ourselves to be constrained by the laws of our own land. The only law grand enough to guide the actions of man is that which serves the best interests of the human race.

One day we will each be held accountable for the degree to which we upheld the laws of peace, love, and justice. There will be no exceptions. Sooner or later (in this life or the next) there will be a “day of reckoning,” a time in which each, and everyone, of us will be held responsible for our actions. No one (not even a citizen of the United States ) will be allowed to escape judgment simply because we, for whatever reason, assumed that we were supposed to have followed orders, that we had an arbitrarily-defined, patriotically-determined duty to obey the laws of our land. The Nazis learned this the hard way. The people of Germany should have known better than to have followed in the footsteps of a mad man. Surely we, as a people, have learned from the horrors of an earlier age. Consequently, we, as citizens, have, what I believe to be, an existential (no doubt a moral) imperative to tell our president that we will not follow him down the path of war, that we, as parents, will not allow him to use our sons (and daughters) as cannon-foddered-pawns in an utterly insane attempt to take over the world!

Once I was asked if I had any ideas concerning how to resolve the problem of war. I responded by saying, "Of course I do ... all war will end when young people tell their leaders that they will no longer go to war, that they will no longer continue to kill, that if war is to continue it must be fought by those who make the decisions to go to war!"

As such, it is essential that we exhibit the courage to follow the inner call of our conscience, the higher calling of God. Anything less than this will destroy the fabric of a nation, desecrate the human spirit, and lead to perdition. So, if called upon, that is, if you, as a young adult, are one day compelled to go to war for your country, ask yourself this rather simple question: “Would it be in my best interests to comply (to essentially go along) with orders to kill my fellowman, all of such, of course, in the name of a coin-engraved, cookie-cutter, American-sized God, or might it be more noble for me, as a man, to choose to become an ambassador for peace, love, and justice, an individual who has chosen to say yes to life and no to war, one who has taken a firm stance against the God-awful madness of war?

Then one day when you, as I, have reached the final days of your life, you will “be assigned” the inevitable task of trying to figure out if you in fact lived a good and decent life, if you, as an individual, had the courage to follow your conscience. And if such is found to be the case, you will spend the final days of your life basking in the glory of a man who knew how to live his life. But if, in looking back upon your life, you find a man who chose to go along with the crowd, one who did what he was told to do by others, one who no doubt sold his soul to that of the highest bidder, you will find a “man of tears,” an individual condemned to living the last of his days in a self-imposed prison of shame, an internment reserved for those who knew not how to live their lives.

As an old man then, one who was given the opportunity to be your father, my advice to you is to do the right thing; always, without exception, follow your conscience. Do that which will enable you to stand tall as a man of honor, a man of true integrity, one who will have chosen life as opposed to death, one who will have committed himself to the nobility of peace rather than the hate-filled horrors of war, one who will be proud of who he has chosen to become as a human being, an old man who will not be afraid to look at himself in the mirror and say “Yes Lord, take me, for I have lived a good and decent life, and I am not afraid to die.” Comment

letters section
Doug Soderstrom

Doug Soderstrom



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