This Sunday will be the Election Sermon.  This time it wil be held after election, when we might focus on moving forward to a more peaceful future.  Veteran’s Day approaches, and I think of the old button I had,

Honor Veteran’s: No More War, it read.

Today the finger is pointed at all Americans to vote.  Record turnouts show how passionate Americans are about this particular election.  But might we be ushered into a time of peace?  Both candidates have spoken of further invasion and violence.  Perhaps diplomacy will be used first, but still an assumption remains that violence and violent invasion is the only way to take care of Al Quaeda.  Perhaps for the first time I am revealing to you my peace-nick naivete.  But this naivete is grounded in my belief that the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice.  We have yet to see justice regularly and consistently in this complicated world.  As I believe that justice is possible, I see it possible only when interwoven with peace and nonviolence.  Of course, these are my personal convictions.  I have had challenging and edifying conversations with friends and colleagues who have served in the military who both share my views and who opposed them.  I understand that the world is more complex than I can begin to understand; yet I feel that my role is to believe that peace is possible.

Recently PBS had a documentary about conscientious objectors from more recent wars (Iraq and Afghanistan).  In World War II a C.O. often just said they were in the Forest Service due to the stigma of being an objector to the Good War.  The men interviewed in this film face the same stigma, shamed and often losing the fellowship of their military comrades.  The PBS Film is called Soldiers of Conscience.  You can explore the main questions and watch a trailer here.  I was moved by these young men who began asking themselves some very simple questions.  The most powerful was, “Is it right for me to kill?”  and then truly sitting with the reality of killing another human being.

I am interested in the stories of those Veterans who have had the conversion experience- either to become a conscientious objector, go AWOL and face charges, or those who quietly finished their tours and simply and firmly said, “No more.”

Veterans for Peace share similar stories.  These stories are worth exploring to round out Veteran’s Day this year.  There are more ways than one to honor veterans next week.