So, it's that time of year again...where we all get to think about our stance on paying taxes that support war. Today someone in meeting brought this up, and it's something I think about a lot.
As Friends, we talk a lot about peace, we can be conscientious objectors to physical participation in war, but we cannot (legally) be conscientious objectors to paying for our country's wars--except by not earning enough money to pay any taxes, or by doing enough in charitable giving that our deductions are high enough that we don't pay taxes. (This has the obvious problem that we use the services that taxes pay for such as roads and schools without paying anything for them.) This is a difficult question! How can we support the good things that government does, allows us to do together, and provides for the poor, while not supporting the stuff that we don't agree with? In a democracy, when everything is decided by the majority, can we withhold our money regarding our own biases, or should we just give what we must and do what the majority wants? (The problem is, of course, that this isn't exactly a democracy--we can vote for whomever we want, but the only people likely to gain office are people most of us wouldn't actually want to represent us. So that's a problem.)
My solution: Quakers, Mennonites, Brethren, and whomever else wants to participate refuses to pay war taxes for a few years, and we suffer the consequences. I think we should campaign for a war-tax-free 2010 in all Quaker meetings and Mennonite/Brethren/etc. communities. What are they going to do--throw us all in jail? Maybe. But they can't do that forever. No one wants to pay their taxes for a bunch of Quakers and other pacifists to sit in jail for not paying taxes. It doesn't make sense.
So are we willing to actually suffer a little bit to be consistent about our peace stance? Are we willing to make a bit of a sacrifice to ensure that our money isn't paying to kill people?
Anyone with me on a war-tax-free 2010? Let's start publicizing now...