Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Conscientious Objection Not Allowed

In many of the interviews for employment one of the questions asked: " What is it that you absolutely don't want to do? On the opinion page of the Peace Weekly the writer mentions some of the answers: "I have no problems." "Nothing special." She doesn't know if these  answers are coming from the heart; and mentions her own response to the question in an interview for a job some 4 years before. She remembers exactly how she responded: "I hate to be forced to do something which I think is wrong."

We  spend a great deal of time in the workplace.  When the system to which we belong is going in a direction we don't like, it is difficult to be content. Our whole body will revolt. When a monk doesn't like the temple he has two choices:  to change the temple or leave. He has to choose the way that benefits him. If he decides to leave, he has to realize that he will not have a chance to eat the tasty food of the temple again. Life is short, and to live doing something you don't want to do is asking a great deal.

Last May she heard about a friend who refused to go into the military. She asked her friends about the young man, and was told that he wanted to work against violence, and made his choice, and was imprisoned. This is not something that happens rarely. In Korea we have over 850 who are now in prison because of the draft, and a great majority are Jehovah's Witnesses. Worldwide, 90 percent of those who are in prison because of the draft are in Korea.

She doesn't want to get involved with the arguments pro or con on the military; she doesn't know what she would do if she were in her friend's shoes but she thinks that there should be an alternative to prison for those who refuse the military. Korea refuses the right of conscientious objection and  does not  provide any alternative civilian service. Korea continues  to violate the international agreement to respect this human right of conscientious objection; and insists their situation is different because of security.

On a train trip she noticed all the advertizing for academies for children: called so and so military academies. Parents seem to have no problem with this, and go along with the situation. The writer reflects how natural the military situation of Korea is accepted by so many, and she sympathizes with  those who are poking us to wake up to this reality. We have conscientious objectors who when released from prison will be call ex-convicts when they are not convicts. There should be a way, she says, for those who do not want to bear arms to do so.