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Voices / Letters from readers

Half of our tax dollars pay for war. Why?

This is a painful letter for me to write. Other writers have hit upon this subject, but April 15 is Tax Day and possibly a day to light a spark somewhere.

The subject (and question) is: Why are U.S. citizens so reluctant to challenge and resist their government when that government is responsible for inflicting so much misery and death on other nations?

It’s embarrassing for me to ask this question, when the media is filled with stories of citizens of other countries who risk and lose their lives for simply holding a picture of their disappeared loved ones, or otherwise speaking out against government and paramilitary oppression.

I’m not a social scientist, and the easy path for me would be to simply throw up my hands in despair, say that nothing can be done, and pig out on as much personal pleasure as possible during my remaining years.

However, I have a strong belief in the power of people to change this existing system, which depends on redemptive violence to be the number-one military power and, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”

Just as Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King depended upon a deep spiritual center and creative nonviolence to achieve their objectives, it’s possible for us also.

We can’t afford to wait for a charismatic leader to guide us, because that person will likely never come.

Some facts:

• The U.S. has more than 700 military bases throughout the world.

• It’s the world’s number-one arms merchant.

• Its military budget equals the combined military budgets of the rest of the world combined.

• It’s the only nation that has dropped atomic weapons on civilian populations.

• It’s the only nation capable of wiping out the retaliatory nuclear weapons of its most heavily armed adversary (Russia) in a surprise nuclear first strike.

Right now, we are pouring billions of dollars into upgrading the U.S. nuclear arsenal, while at the same time refusing to set a date for complete nuclear disarmament as required by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that we signed more than 25 years ago.

And right now, the U.S. government will take the federal tax dollars due April 15 and pour nearly half of that money into a bottomless military pit that depends upon the false concept of “defense” to survive.

Please stop by the Brattleboro post office on Tuesday, April 15, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and learn about the details of war-tax resistance. It is not necessary to let fear and lack of knowledge become the determining factors of a decision to not even look into an important exercise of conscience.

Experienced members of the Pioneer Valley War Tax Resisters (WTR) will gladly talk with you, and there is plenty of WTR-written material to choose from. Enjoy some appropriate acoustic music in the process, or join in.

Daniel Sicken

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Originally published in The Commons issue #249 (Wednesday, April 9, 2014). This story appeared on page C2.

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