Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 5. 1969.
Politically making war less likely — "Can we engineer a situation where war is less likely, and can we politically help in this change?" — Vietnam cause of rise in CO. applications
Politically making war less likely
"Can we engineer a situation where war is less likely, and can we politically help in this change?"
Vietnam cause of rise in CO. applications
Total, applications for exemptions from military training by conscientious objectors rose almost 50% from 1967 to 1968 on the basis of figures supplied by Rev. Jack Nairn, a member of the tribunal which considers the applications.
Rev. Nairn attributed the rise in applications largely to the Vietnam war.
"If a person objects to a particular war, we interpret this to mean they object to any war," he said.
"At present I would say about 50% of applications are related to the Vietnam war.
"As we don't judge consciences, but the grounds and sincerity of beliefs, most of the cases are in fact allowed.
"Only about 4% of cases are dismissed in a year."
Although society tacitly demands that conscience be judged, in practice this cannot be done.
Applications based on philosophical rather than religious grounds would now "probably make up a majority of cases."
"Some of my colleagues forget that if the case is philosophical, it should not be judged on religious grounds," he said.
A further criticism he made of the comittee was that they sometimes asked "emotive questions".
"I think they're a bit silly." he said.
This is the major question facing the conscientious objector, Rev. Paul Oestreicher said at Otaki last weekend.
While it is valid to ask if we have the courage to say no to war this is only part of the solution.
It is only an "end" and doesn't provide for the "means".
"We need techniques of non-violent action to stop killers, and because killing has become so depersonalised we must stop them now, before the killing begins," he said.
Asked whether it was legitimate to kill to change the system. Rev. Oestreicher said:
"I cannot see the spiritual logic in acting in this way— from outside the conflict.
"We must find an existential solution for any particular problem.
"We must find techniques which are morally justifiable while at the same time politically feasible."
A close study of the Vietnam war protest in the United States shows this to be an effective political protest.
"We want a situation with society on the defensive and a radical minority in tension with that society," he said.
"We may have to go as far as breaking the law to achieve this.
"A simple response is needed, but we must think of ways of breaking the war syndrome," he said.