WASHINGTON, DC (Tasnim) – Maria Santelli with the Center on Conscience & War in Washington said more American troops are voluntarily discharging themselves from the US Army as they are suffering from a ‘crisis of conscience’.
“…I believe that a world beyond war is possible. I work with members of the US military who have a crisis of conscience and for their moral or religious beliefs, they realize they can no longer take part in war and killing of other people. So I help them seek discharge from the US military based on their conscience and I believe that all of us have got that same drive in our conscience. Our conscience tells us all that war and killing are wrong. Every faith tradition tells us that war and killing are wrong. This is a threat that runs through every major faith tradition,” Santelli told the Tasnim news agency in Washington.
She further recounted a story of an American Muslim who had joined the US Army and then withdrew from it as he could not tolerate war and killing.
“So I will speak about a young Palestinian American man who was in the US army against the wishes of his family…he was raised in the United States and he thought the right thing to do was to join the US army. His Palestinian parents begged him not to join the army. They said we do not kill people that is now what we do. He chose to do it anyway thinking as the recruiters promise here: “Oh, you’ll never see war”, “you’ll never see combat”, “you are gonna just have a nice clean job,” and “don’t worry about it, you are gonna get money for your college”. Well, of course that was not the situation. So when he got deployment orders to Afghanistan, he began to goad more deeply into his faith and seek guidance from his faith, his Muslim faith. And what he learned is that Islam means peace; Muslims do not take lives of other people; they work for peace. And he realized that he could not go to Afghanistan not just because he felt a kinship with the people of Afghanistan; he developed a kinship with the people of the world and he refused to take part in taking another human life,” Santelli said.
The American activist continued, “…conscience is contagious. When someone takes stand against killing and against violence, other people are going to hear that. Killing depends on us dehumanizing our opponent. You can’t kill someone if you see that humanity. It is easier to kill someone if you do not see their humanity.”
Maria Santelli is Executive Director of the Center on Conscience & War, a 75-year old organization founded to provide technical and community support to conscientious objectors to war. Based in Washington, D.C., Santelli has been working for peace and justice since 1996. The center opposes military conscription, and serves all conscientious objectors to war.
Watch the video of Tasnim’s interview with Maria Santelli on their website: