Wilful Defiance

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It’s no secret that I’m opposed to nearly everything that George “W” says and does. America was once my home, but from my view here in Canada I hardly recognize the “land of the free” any more. It seems that every day I hear another tale of the American government treading on the rights and freedoms of its citizens. (The latest …an entire neighborhood displaced by the federal gov’t so that a Walmart can be built where their homes once stood. A %&&#$ WALMART…now there’s your tax dollars in action. eminent domain at it’s worst.

I was doing some research on WWI the other day and found an ‘open letter’ written by a British soldier in the London Times. In light of the War on Iraq, the words seem particularly poinant. I have heard that US soldiers who are on leave from their duties in Iraq are calling to ask: “what’s the worst that could happen to me if I didn’t go back?”

Second Lieutenant Siegfried Sassoon served in the Royal Welch Fusiliers in France and in Palestine. His actions in getting his dead and wounded men back to the British trenches earned him a Military Cross. He was wounded twice. On convalescent leave after being wounded in the shoulder Sassoon wrote his Declaration of “wilful defiance”

Here are his words:

“I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects witch actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerity’s for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practised on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realise.”

S. Sassoon,

(Open Letter, published in The Times newspaper, 31 July 1917)

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