A Soldier’s Soliloquy: Can a Person Refuse to Fight?

by Aasem Bakhshi

…if called upon by the government to do so. Thomas Hobbes would concede this right with some limitations and John Locke would probably deny. And even though Lockean tradition is superior in terms of social contract theory, I tend to take refuge behind Hobbes, considering the Leviathan I am subjected to in my part of the world. But I am still not sure how to tackle this question, which albeit still at some distance, is moving towards me while staring ceaselessly on my face.

While the angst is becoming unbearable and the masochist within me is yet again alive after so many years, I ramble inveterately in search of judgment.

For me, fight or not to fight is not simply a question of making difference to the world by making use of one’s inherent belligerence. Whether metaphysical or ethical, the problem inevitably boils down to the ultimate motive of taking others’ lives by sacrificing your own. I may resist the sovereign in order to preserve my self but how can I justify my resistance in defending others.

I am still skeptical about the question, but if the sovereign is equally egoistic, is it ethically culpable to deny defending others?

While I engage my self with the sovereign’s, he gives me another good reason to fight: national interest. Number of questions pop up in my mind. In this context, the raison d’être of my nation’s existence is still debatable. Is it religion or something beyond – or something obscure enough to even care for? Can it be that national interests are similar to citizens’ interests? All citizens or few – or most? But while I am busy unbracing these Gordian knots about liberty, sovereign is only obsessed with questions related to property. An onlooker makes me realize that war is already on and interests of nations are unified. But the war is against terror and terror begets no one’s interest – only more terror. Can it be that one nation’s war terrifies other’s existence. Desperately wanting answers, I feel dejected and discombobulated.

In my befuddlement, I turn to revelation.

Revelation preoccupies me better; probably, because I have never been a profound realist – always interested more in things metaphysical. While I am sure to exist briefly, I search through revelation and find allowance for fighting. It prescribes by qualifying it as a last resort to stop anarchy and calls it justice; – the only reason to fight for. I focus my mind to this life and start philosophizing about just war theories. The Book also delineates moral and ethical principles for the sovereign to rule – and to fight for. The revelation does not allow me to doubt his intentions and though his voice seldom reaches me, I know that he is a pragmatist. Albeit he wears his intention on his face, I ask him whether he intends ruling by these principles. He ignores my question and defines justice for me instead. I am not sure if fighting anybody else’s war is justice; even if interests appear to be unified. Revelation does not make a mention of interest; whether self, national or international. The sovereign at last reminds me that I am falling a victim to religious anachronism.

Ceaselessly asking myself if revelation is bounded in time, I am not sure if God would judge me according to borders. I am not even sure if its a valid question to ask. In my suspension, I wait patiently for the actual question to come closer and look back into its eyes.

1 Comment

Filed under musings, Philosophy, Religion, war

One response to “A Soldier’s Soliloquy: Can a Person Refuse to Fight?

  1. Lao

    If you are reading Revelation then you already know the answer…

    if you are in uniform then you are a soldier of God, his olive branch. Guardian of the gates of heaven.

    That’s if you are an angel, if you’re not, then you best be careful.

    Chapter 11.

    The Whore of Babylon is also a good reason why God makes armies fight.