Young Adult Conscientious Objectors
Young Adult Conscientious Objectors
Most of us don’t realize that young men, when
they turn 18 years of age, are still required by law
to register for the draft. This law only applies to
young men, women are exempt from this
requirement. But the fact that young men in our
country must still register for the draft feels like an
anachronism from the Vietnam Era. In reality, the requirement to register for the draft was reinstated by
President Carter when Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1980. It also would seem to be an anachronism
because we have been operating with an all-volunteer military for the last several decades.
Nevertheless, this is the law which also presents us with an opportunity.
One of the challenges of our modern media culture is that the use of violence and war are everywhere
around us in the form of television & movies, video games, news images from the streets of our cities
and of course the all-too-real images of war from the front lines in Ukraine, Sudan, Yemen and
Very few of us have asked ourselves what we believe about the use of violence and war. If we don’t take
time to ask those questions, we will most likely adopt the values of our very pro-violence culture. That is
why I wanted to talk with three very unique young adults about their decision to declare themselves to be
conscientious objectors to war through the Presbyterian Church’s program for recognizing conscientious
objectors. Without a doubt, I have found this conversation with these young adults to be one of the most
inspiring conversations I have had in a long time. I hope you also find it inspiring.
Chris is an investigator in death penalty defense with the
Habeas Corpus Resource Center in San Francisco; Chris is
also a cognitive neuroscience researcher and a trumpet
player. He is motivated to both deepen our appreciation of the
human mind and enact those human-centered values in our
social systems. Chris is 22 years old.
Joshua’s life is centered around learning
foreign languages and traveling. He has a
lot of connections with friends abroad,
especially in Asia. Last year he taught English in Taiwan and traveled throughout South
Korea. He has also studied abroad in Japan in middle school and high school.
While he was teaching in Taiwan, Chinese war planes were constantly flying over their
schools/city and the planes were so loud that it interrupted his teaching. He does some
drone building and he is interested in drone racing. The drone racing community has
some affiliations with the military. They often sponsor drone racing events... Joshua is
21 years old.
Abby is a recent grad from Scripps College, where she studied Asian American studies
and politics. In the past they've been involved in non-profit work, student organizing, and
local city council candidate campaigns. In the Fall, they’re looking forward to teaching
Filipino American studies in San Francisco schools with the organization Pinay
Educational Partnerships. In their free time, Abby enjoys drinking coffee, playing soccer,
and knitting sweaters for her family and friends. Abby is 22 years old.
If you are interested in learning more about how to become a conscientious objector
through the Presbyterian Church USA, you can download the document
Presbyterians and Military Service: Conscientious Objection. If you are serving in the
military, you can contact the Center on Conscience and War for assistance. You may
also find the Inventory of Conscience survey to be a good way to begin your journey
toward considering these important questions. Thank you again for listening. Please
leave a comment and pass this along to friends and family.