Submitted by the AEU Fraternity Of Leaders
War is a violation of mankind’s age-old dream of world peace. It is contrary to mankind’s noblest ethical ideals and in conflict with the highest teachings of all the great religions and philosophies of the world. It represents a failure in mankind’s current aspirations for peace as expressed in the United Nations; determination “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”
Wars in our time have taken the lives of millions of human beings, spread terror and pain, destroyed families and crushed children’s hopes for joy in life. Since the advent of the nuclear era the continuation of war threatens the survival of civilization and possibly even the survival of the human race.
Whereas all governments now recognize that the only possible public justification for war or the threat of war is defense against aggression, and recognizing this, tend to place total blame on the adversary and to justify themselves as acting in self-defense; and
Whereas governments often make use of deliberate falsification, intensive propaganda and fervent appeals to patriotism to gain popular support for totally unjustified wars, and
Whereas on questions of war and peace the individual has an ethical obligation to be responsive to the system of world law which is evolving under the United Nations; and
Whereas the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials have enunciated the principle that obedience to political authorities does not relieve the individual of moral responsibility for his actions; and
Whereas unless individual citizens are willing to make their own judgments on the morality of a war, there will be no effective internal restraints on the war-making powers of their governments; and
Now Therefore Be It Resolved that the Fraternity of Leaders of the American Ethical Union declares the question of individual participation in or support of war to be a moral question of the highest order, a question which cannot rightfully be ignored. When any person is called upon to support a war effort, he should listen to the leaders of his government, seek out the most objective available news sources and then make a moral decision in the light of his own ethical values and his responsibility to the world community as well as to his own nation. The fact that his government offers him a ready-made moral position in no way absolves him from the responsibility for making his own decision.
If he concludes that his government is morally and legally right, he should give it his wholehearted support. If he concludes that his government is wrong, he should oppose its policy with equal vigor. When an individual who is liable for military service concludes that a war is wrong, he has not only the moral right but the moral responsibility to announce himself as a conscientious objector. What is ethically imperative for persons of all ages is that they make a moral decision.