In a democracy, we are supposed to have choices. Our Constitution gives us those choices. Our Constitution is founded on the highest order of morality. As a soldier, my husband, Sgt. Kevin Benderman, has a sworn duty to defend his country and its Constitution. As a soldier, my husband therefore has a sworn duty to defend morality.
"Thou shalt not kill." After seeing the immorality of war firsthand, my husband has laid down his weapons to kill no more. What greater defense of our Constitution is there?
This morning my husband and I sat down together, away from every electronic communication device we have; we shared coffee and thoughts about the past three weeks of our lives. We are baffled that a decision, a choice that makes such simple sense to us, is causing such an uproar.
"Thou shalt not kill." We have heard it since childhood, but life, society, religious instruction all find a way to wrap a simple statement into myriad parables until the simple truth is unrecognizable, hidden in justifications, addenda, and codicils. Reality, the act of living it, not dramatizing it, not fantasizing it, not presuming its nature, just living it, gave us all we needed to unwrap the package and face the simple truth.
My work has been taking care of people who are sick or aged so that when it is their time to die, it is with dignity. I saw the true nobility of a life well lived, and a death that was proud; a declaration of peace, and respect for life.
My husband’s work showed him the alternative, dying young, for a cause far less noble than life, and it will continue unless we learn to lay down our weapons in respect for all the soldiers who have given their lives for peace. He saw the worst; unnatural death brought about by the arrogance of people who dared to try to control life.
We are asked how someone who accepted his duty to train for war five years ago, two years ago who served a combat tour could now say he is against all war?
We respond with more questions of our own:
How is it that someone can profess to honor the veterans who have served in past wars, then leave their father or mother stranded in a nursing home with little regard for their care or emotional well-being? How can a country that allows this question my husband for wanting to honor the service of our veterans by fighting for peace in a war without weapons?
How can a pastor profess an understanding of true faith, say he speaks in God’s name, teach others to walk the path of the "Prince of Peace," and yet claim the Bible, God’s word, says that war is a necessity, the evil we must face before we can see peace?
How can a country that dares to profess faith question my husband’s defense of God’s teachings for laying down his weapons and choosing that same path of peace?
Some say the Bible is a prophecy. We say the Bible is a prophecy of what could happen if we make the wrong choice. The Bible says war will happen, not because it must, but because man will not walk the path of peace. Democracy gives us all a choice. We have made ours. We have made the only choice that maintains our integrity and brings us peace. We respect the choices of others, even when we do not understand them; democracy requires that. My husband is a soldier, sworn to defend our country’s Constitution, and I have sworn to support him in that defense.
"Thou shalt not kill," simple words now. My husband has laid down his gun to raise a far more powerful weapon he has made his choice to raise his hand in peace.
January 26, 2005