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Soldiers of Conscience

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Thinking About War and Peace

In Soldiers of Conscience, eight U.S. soldiers, some whom have killed and some who have said no, reveal their inner moral dilemmas about whether or not it's right to kill.

How can you think more deeply about the morality of war and support servicemen and women or conscientious objectors?

  • Create opportunities for respectful dialogue between conscientious objectors (and their supporters) and soldiers who have chosen to fight (and their supporters). Pay special attention to the ways in which both positions embody honor and patriotism.

  • Organize a letter-writing campaign to your representatives concerning mental health benefits, suicide prevention and other counseling resources for soldiers, veterans and their families. More information can be found in the "Resources" section of this guide.

  • Publicize or find ways to support existing efforts to help soldiers apply for conscientious objector status or fight dishonorable discharges for refusing to kill.

  • Write letters to servicemen and women. For more information, please visit the website of America Supports You, a program of the Department of Defense that provides opportunities to citizens who want to show their support for the U.S. Armed Forces.

  • Research the history of conscientious objection or pacifism in the United States. Invite speakers from organizations such as the Center on Conscience and War, International Women's League for Peace and Freedom, and the War Resisters League. Contrast their positions with those taken by veterans groups or military ethicists.

      • If you are religious:
      • Examine your religion's teachings about war, peace, aggression, self-defense and killing. Share what you learn with members of your congregation.

      • Engage leaders and members of your religious congregation or denomination to craft a statement of conscience about war and peace.
 

Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.

Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

This lesson plan is designed to be used with the film Soldiers of Conscience, which explores the morality of killing in wartime. Classrooms can use this lesson to help students consider opposing arguments on this issue and then develop and defend their own positions.

Reading List

Delve Deeper

This multimedia resource list, compiled by Rebecca Federman of the New York Public Library, provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised by the P.O.V. documentary Soldiers of Conscience and recommended books and magazine articles about conscientious objectors.

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All too often we point our fingers at nations and presidents and huge institutions as if they are responsible for everything. We believe that is only partly true. Each one of us is also hugely responsible.”

— Gary Weimberg & Catherine Ryan, Filmmakers