Benderman Defense

How To Stop A War

How to Stop a War

By Monica Benderman

HINESVILLE, GEORGIA, February 10, 2006–Three years ago we were spending time together, every moment we could, building the type of relationship we would need to survive the unknown we were about to face.
It was our choice – going to war.  Based on the information we had, and knowing that we don’t take our commitments lightly, we knew that we would face this duty to country together – the commitment we had made.  Kevin to defend the constitution, the country and all that it represented as a volunteer in the US Army, and me as the one who would take care of everything that was ours while he was away.
We decided to create two sterling silver rings, his and hers, with a simple “love knot” design that we would wear while Kevin was away from me. They complimented our sterling silver wedding bands and my engagement ring. Sterling silver happened to be within our limited budget, but it was also sturdy and durable. The rings became very meaningful tokens that both of us have continue treasure throughout this ordeal.
Iraq happened.
Can you truly understand what it feels like to watch in the darkness as your husband, loaded with weapons, chemical antidotes and somber anticipation, boards a bus to an airfield where he will board a plane that will take him to war?  For those of you who have never been there – please don’t say you understand.  You never will.
The feeling of helplessness can be overwhelming – but you have to be strong when you realize that as much as the motive seems to be a duty to country, what it comes down to is that your husband will do anything to keep you safe – so the country benefits from the love you share.
The months of finding creative ways to take care of this man who has volunteered to deprive himself of everything that home and our way of life gives us simply because he has enough love in his heart to want to keep what he cares about safe, are months you live on the edge, but also with a strength that can only come from that love, and from a greater being who DOES understand.  Who gives you what you need because it is the LOVE that He respects, and the support that the love gives for standing by someone who has made the choice to live by what they believe.
War is wrong.  Taking the life of another simply because their choices are different from yours, is never right.   But believing in something based on the knowledge you have is not wrong, and standing beside someone you love because you support their commitment to what they believe, will never be wrong.
It is the love, after all, that will eventually bring about right.  Conscience grows because of love and understanding, not because of hate and anger.  When you stand against the actions of another with anger, hate, and criticism – Conscience will run and hide – and defense mechanisms will take over – survival.  If the world is one based on fear and hate, there is no room for Conscience while we are all busy defending ourselves.
War is wrong – but others don’t learn that simply because you say it.  Others learn it because they live it, they see it, and they are personally affected by it. Just like when men get older and they experience the symptoms associated with andropause. Unless you’ve experienced the consequences of getting older you really don’t understand why men who can afford it decide to explore the options offered by age management medicine. But I digress. Our government says that war must happen in order for there to be peace.  Soldiers are learning for themselves whether to believe that or not.  Many soldiers are dying, and many families suffer.  But the soldiers have a choice at any time, and they need their experiences in order to know what to believe.
There are consequences, but we always have a choice.  We can all choose to learn for ourselves, or to take the word of others.  But the word of others can often be wrong for us.  It is not up to the government to tell us what choice we should make.  BUT – neither is it up to those who stand against this government to tell us what our choice should be.  The price of freedom is high. No one has the right to decide the price another person should be willing to pay.
We can criticize the choices, but they are the choices we make.  We are all volunteers – and those of us who gave, gave willingly.
Almost three years later, I watched as my husband, having made a moral choice and refusing to lower his standards regardless of the threats the Army threw at him, was led away to a van that would take him to a plane that would take him to a different kind of war.
It was our choice – going to peace.  Based on the information we had, and knowing that we don’t take our commitments lightly, we knew that we would face this duty to country together – the commitment we had made.  Kevin to defend the constitution, the country and all that it represented as a soldier who had decided that he must live for peace and would no longer participate in war, and me as the one who would take care of everything that was ours while he was away.
Prison happened.
Can you truly understand what it feels like to watch in the bright sunlight while your husband, still wearing the medals of honor given for over 10 years of commitment to defending this country and its constitution, is forced into confinement by a corrupt command who seem to live for the false sense of power they felt by attempting to control this soldier rather than honoring his inalienable right to choose for himself.  Do you know what it feels like to watch a man who volunteered for this service when so many others felt no responsibility to defend what they have been given, be taken into custody for standing for the very rights he had defended?  For those who have never been there, please do not say you understand.  You never will.
The feeling of helplessness can be overwhelming – but you have to be strong when you realize that as much as the motive seems to be a duty to country, what it comes down to is your husband knowing that he will do anything to keep you safe – so the country benefits from the love you share.
The months of finding creative ways to take care of this man who has been wrongfully forced to deprive himself of everything that home and our way of life gives us, simply because he has enough love in his heart to want to keep what he cares about safe, are months you live on the edge, but also with a strength that can only come from that love, and from a greater being who DOES understand.  Who gives you what you need because it is the LOVE that He respects, and the support that the love gives for standing by someone who has made the choice to live by what they believe.
These “warriors” who have committed to defend us must know they have good things to return to – not cars, houses, money in the bank.  They must have someone they can believe in who loves them for who they are, who will take them back and help them heal, a country that shows respect for their sacrifice by making the changes necessary to keep them from ever having to go to war again, and a country that will give them the freedom to make their personal choices when they say they have had enough of killing – without facing retribution from selfish people who aren’t willing to stand to defend themselves.
We must understand the depth of their belief and the reasons for their commitment.  We must realize that they do not see from the same perspective as us.  For some, it is something as simple as knowledge.  We must not be so bold as to believe that we are the ones who should be doing the educating.  We must be humble enough to realize that perhaps it is us who need greater knowledge.   Mostly we must remember that it is no one’s right to demand that another choose as you have chosen, whether you are for or against war.
Change does not come by forcing it at the end of an M-16. Change does not come by loud protests, by abusing public property and by daring law officers to arrest us to make a statement against the establishment.
Change comes with patience, understanding and education.  Change comes by example – by using wisdom to lead others to realize the best choice for them.  Change comes by allowing others to live through the experiences they must, as difficult as it is to watch, so that they can come to their choices from within themselves.  This is the only way they will truly believe.
To bring about the change we all are seeking, we must realize that the change must be a choice we all are allowed to make, as individuals and in our own time.  We must learn to live our own lives, not to presume to know what is best for others.  We must educate ourselves, and we must love others enough to give them the same opportunity for themselves.
Patience and acceptance of others is what will stop war.  Education will stop war.  Understanding will stop war.  Humility will stop war. Realizing our place, accepting our responsibilities and remembering our humanity will stop war.
Love will stop war.  You are all free to choose.
Monica is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, currently serving a 15 month sentence at the Ft. Lewis, WA stockade, for filing a CO application and not returning for a second combat tour in Iraq.

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