James Newcomb – Musician | Podcaster

Ep. 16 Crisis of Conscience: The Untold Story of Conscientious Objectors in the Modern (Voluntary) Military

Dharma: The sacred duty

The soldier’s dharma is to obey orders without question.

But what happens when obeying those orders results in what I call a “crisis of conscience?” What is your dharma then?

I say it’s to be true to yourself, to do everything in your power to change your circumstances so that you can face life with a clear conscience.

There is a term for people who experience this crisis of conscience: conscientious objector.

And there are rules and regulations governing people who profess this crisis and seek to leave the military.

I had the chance to speak with Bill Galvin who works for the Center on Conscience and Warabout conscientious objectors, the process by which one seeks discharge, and some personal thoughts on the topic.

I have to say that if your inclination is to mindlessly obey what our overlords tell us is right, moral and good, you might want to skip this episode. Let something else I say turn you off to me completely.

In this episode, Bill and I discuss:

  • A working definition of a conscientious objector [3:55]

  • What about people who claim to be conscientious objectors who joined the military of their own free will? [5:04]

  • How likely is someone who applies for that status to be approved? [6:47]

  • Real life stories of people who have sought, and obtained, conscientious objector status from the U.S. military [8:20]

  • What about someone like Desmond Doss, who was a conscientious objector, but still participated in the war effort? [13:52]

  • How can an applicant for conscientious objector status prepare for the experience? [16:40]

  • What about conscientious objector’s who areĀ notopposed to the use of force in situations apart from war? [20:40]

  • Does the Center on Conscience and War charge a fee for their counseling services? [32:00]

  • The horrific treatment of conscientious objector’s in America that led to the founding of the Center on Conscience and War [32:39]

  • Personal commentary from James Newcomb [35:28]

Resources mentioned:

The Center on Conscience and War

Thick Face, Black Heart by Chin-Ning Chu

Got questions for me about my own experience as a conscientious objector? Just leave a comment below and I’ll reply. If you prefer email, you may click here.

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