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An Act of Conscience


Some people are persuaded to go to war and follow the drum of patriotism in defense of one's country. Others refuse to follow the herd because their conscience dictates that killing another human being is contrary to everything that they have been taught in a civil society; they follow the moral code of ‘Thou shalt not kill.' 

Those who refuse to kill are legitimate world citizens who are courageous. Their actions reflect a moral stance on vital issues of humanity as expressed by concerned citizens around the world.  In 1895, 7000 dissident Russian Doukhobors burned their guns and swords in a mass demonstration to the world to get rid of the institution of militarism and war once and for all.  

Earlier this year, a Doukhobor friend from Saskatchewan sent me a letter with the following story of his son who is an entrepreneur with a conscience.  

I now want to share with you my pride and respect for my son Kim. I was sitting in his office last week and he says to me, 'Dad, I received an order from the Canadian military; they want me to produce several thousand military badges. What do you think?' 

Needless to say,  I was taken aback because the order is for many thousands of dollars. I then said to him the order represents a lot of money that you can use. 

He said: 'Dad, I know and I have made a decision. I will not manufacture these badges because they promote the military that I am totally against. It is more important to me and my family to know the principles I stand for than this money. So I will inform them of my decision.'  

We sat silent for a while and it took all my will power not to shed tears. He did inform his family and they were supportive. So, my friend is it not gratifying to know that there are people like Kim in this world whose actions follow their beliefs!’  

Kim, you are a hero for taking such a principled high road stand and for refusing to contribute to the war effort. Instead, you are helping to create a nonkilling society.  

The last word goes to Kim himself:  

I am making sure that my kids see what war and politics are really about. I have said it before: that people have the choice to produce good things and bad things in their factories. If each factory owner refused to produce weapons, there would not be any. So, if you own a factory that produces a million guns then are you not responsible for a million lives lost? How many people would not have been killed if those weapons were never made? It is not so easy to kill with your own hands because your conscience will get hold of you. 

Update: Since the article was published, Kim and his family closed down their Canadian die plant and moved to Australia where they established a candy factory using natural materials.  

Koozma J. Tarasoff, first published in Canadian Mennonite, Oct. 29, 2007, page 7 

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