The Conscientious Objection of Frank Capri

We were pleased to receive a comment recently (on our post regarding conscientious objector Benjamin Salmon) from professional photographer Frank Capri, himself a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War:

https://pacificlandgirls.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/armistice-remembrance-day-paying-tribute-to-conscientious-objectors/

(see comments after post)

Mr. Capri is currently working on a documentary film about his experiences as a CO, called “I Refuse to Kill”. For further information on this admirable project, check out his website….

http://www.frankcapri.com/documentary-film/

We here at Pacific Land Girls would like to offer our sincerest wishes for the success of Frank Capri’s film, since the story of the committed moral stance of conscientious objectors throughout history has never been afforded the attention and praise it so dearly deserves. Bravo! 

 

Armistice / Remembrance Day: Paying Tribute to Conscientious Objectors

As mentioned previously in other posts, despite our focus on certain aspects of the wartime era, we ourselves are pacifists (hence “pacific” land girls). 

Therefore, in honor of Armistice / Remembrance Day yesterday, we’d like to pay tribute to the conscientious objectors (sometimes nicknamed “conchies”) of World War I and World War II, who often suffered very greatly for their commitment to pacifist ideals and practices.

Of particular note is Benjamin Joseph Salmon, a conscientious objector during the First World War.

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As a result of his deep religious and humanitarian convictions, Salmon refused to take up arms, and as a consequence was arrested, imprisoned, sentenced to hard labor, forced into a sanitorium, and tortured.

In his own words: 

“When human law conflicts with Divine law, my duty is clear. Conscience, my infallible guide, impels me to tell you that prison, death, or both, are infinitely preferable to joining any branch of the Army.”

That such a person was not permitted the freedom to follow his own conscience is truly disgraceful, in our view.

On a related note, it’s worth pointing out that the Women’s Land Army sometimes served as a place where those with pacifist convictions could make meaningful contributions, without bearing arms. The following is from the reminiscences of Mary Cooper, a WWII land girl:

“I joined the Women’s Land Army in June 1942. Women were shortly to be conscripted and I did not want to join the Forces, mainly because I’d been influenced by the ideas of the Quakers and the beliefs of conscientious objectors. But I was keen to leave home, full of romantic ideas. The WLA seemed the perfect solution. And in many ways it was.”

(Copyright: WW2 People’s War, an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar)

Finally, it was in 1948 that the rights of conscientious objectors were officially recognized by the United Nations, via the following statement in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

 “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Bravo!

~ the Green girls ☮

Looking Back: Planting Vegetables in Public

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 After being bombed during the Blitz, this London lot is being put to good use: a group of boys is turning it into a vegetable garden as part of the “Dig for Victory” campaign.

In our opinion, there is so much “right with” this picture!

– children are working outdoors in a group, making a tremendously useful contribution to society, instead of sitting indoors playing video games etc., as so many do now

(*Did you know that the average contemporary North American youth spends 8 hours/day in front of a screen?)

– a public space is being used for the crucial task of growing local food, creating a sustainable city

– defeat is being turned into victory, via ploughing and planting seeds

Something to emulate!!

1940s Today: Philip Pullman on Rationing

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Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Philip Pullman, the well known author of the His Dark Materials trilogy:

My childhood was formed during the austerity years after the war. So I still feel influenced by that. Curious, isn’t it, how we were much healthier as a nation after the war when the rationing was on?

He goes on to discuss the problem with the concept of having a “tradable carbon ration”, and counterposes his own idea of a system inspired by wartime rationing:

One less drastic solution we hear talk of is a tradable carbon ration. If you have unused credit, you can sell to somebody else. I think that’s wrong. We should have a fixed limit and that’s it. This is a crisis as big as war and you couldn’t trade your ration book in the wartime.

You were allowed three ounces of butter a week, or whatever, and that was it. And this is what it should be like with carbon. None of this carbon trading. We should have a fixed limit and if you use it all up in October, then tough, you shiver for the rest of the year.

That’s what I reckon, but it won’t happen because governments are too feeble. Governments are feeble now because all the Western governments have bought into the orthodoxy that the market knows best. And the market bloody well doesn’t know best, the market is what got us into this mess.

Every social bond, everything that we thought was firm and established, gets wiped away. It is wiped away by money, by the mighty force, this universal acid of the market system. Magnificent.

If you’d like to read the whole article, you can find it here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/3322329/Philip-Pullman-new-brand-of-environmentalism.html