A commitment to non-violence embodies much more than simply resisting the
draft or refusing to pay taxes to a government engaged in war, according to
Karl Meyer, pacifist and anarchist.
To be truly non-violent people must relate the concepts of non-exploitation
of others to all phases of their lives, Meyer said to a group of about 30
persons at the Lutheran Student Center .
Meyer has been involved with anti-war groups and served nine months in the Cook County Jail for refusing to
pay federal income taxes.
“Non-violence begins with overcoming our fears of economic deprivations,
death, and loss of social status,” Meyer said. “It also consists of
overcoming our hatreds of those who have the wealth, the weapons, and the
power. The reaction to those who harm us is usually one of violence.
Non-violence goes beyond this and disarms the fear of others towards us.”
Meyer disputed the truth of People’s Republic of China Party Chairman Mao
Tse-Tung’s axiom that power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
“It isn’t the gun that makes us strong,” Meyer said, “it’s the bond between
people. The reason the Vietnamese people were able to defeat the United
States was because they had a much greater spiritual power.
“The gun was unnecessary for them. Unfortunately, they saw the gun as a
symbol to overcome people’s fears. If there had been some way to change their
strength to peaceful power, the opposition would have collapsed just the
same,” he said.
Meyer also questioned the power the Internal Revenue Service exercises over
citizens. He called on the members of the audience to follow his example and
not give money to a government that used 60 per cent of its taxes for defense.
“I haven’t paid any federal income tax ,” said Meyer. “I don’t pay now and I don’t think I ever will.”
Meyer does believe people have an obligation to contribute to society and said
he does give his share, although not to the government.
“I believe in paying my social dues,” Meyer explained. “I tax myself
one-third of my annual income and give it to the Catholic Worker newsletter
and the United Farm Workers.”
Although in the past the government has pressured Meyer to pay his taxes, his
income now falls below the non-taxable poverty line of $2,050 a year. Meyer
works for an Illinois state agency which helps train mentally retarded and
“I prefer this,” Meyer said, claiming to be wearing second-hand clothing.
“When I enter into an exchange with other people, I know I will at least be
entering into an equitable exchange.
“I want to live my life without stepping on other people. Unfortunately, most
peoples’ lives are lived at the expense of others. They believe we must kill
in order to survive,” he said.
Meyer explained that at the heart of non-violence is a spirit of tolerance
and conciliation” [sic]