Here’s another excerpt from Juanita Nelson’s account of her arrest that I found , too late, alas, to include it in ’s Picket Line:
It is, as far as I can see, an unpleasant fact that we cannot avoid decision-making. We are not absolved by following the dictates of a mentor or of a majority. For we then have made the decision to do that — have concluded because of belief or of fear or of apathy that this is the thing which we should do or cannot avoid doing. And then we share in the consequences of any such action. Are we doing more than trying to hide our nakedness with a fig leaf when we take the view expressed by a friend who belonged to a fundamental religious sect? At the time he wore the uniform of the United States Marines. “I’m not helping to murder,” he said. “I’m carrying out the orders of my government, and the sin is not mine.” I could never tell whether there was a bitter smile playing around his lips or if he was quite earnest. It is a rationalization commonly held and defended. It is a comforting presumption, but it still appears to me that, while the seat of government is in Washington, the seat of conscience is in me. It cannot be voted out of office by one or a million others.
This harmonizes well with what I wrote back in when I started this experiment:
I’m responsible for the actions I choose — I cannot rent out my conscience to another person, army, government, corporation, majority or law-book. It’s not just unwise, given the history of the last century, but it is literally impossible. Each of my decisions is a decision I choose based on what I anticipate the consequences will be. I may take into account what the law says, or what the Bible says, or what the movie critic for the Chronicle says, but ultimately I’m the one making the choice. If I ignore my conscience, I’m committing a particularly dangerous form of suicide — choking off the guardian of my free will and leaving behind the sort of dangerous robot who’s spent the last hundred years swerving from cradle to grave building gulags and genetically engineering more evil forms of smallpox. Not for me.
It feels good to find a kindred spirit who has walked the road I’m on ahead of me.