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The Courage To Say No

“Forward he cried from the rear, And the front rank died, And the general sat, And the lines on the map, Moved from side to side” Roger Waters / Rick Wright

I was just following orders. That was the excuse of Adolf Eichmann for his role in the Nazi Holocaust. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. 

Anti war protest photo“There is a need to draw a line between the leaders responsible and the people like me forced to serve as mere instruments in the hands of the leaders,” pleaded Eichmann. The truth is that everybody makes a conscious choice and life and we are responsible for our actions.

Nobody can force anybody to do anything. Everybody possesses free will and total control of their own person. While this is an absolute truth it is equally true that all our actions result in consequences. That is nobody forces anybody to work. However if one chooses not to work then they may most likely be homeless and hungry. Still, the choice exists.

From our infancy, in the United States, it is the norm to be taught to hold the state with great revere. I recall as a child putting my hand over my heart and talking to this colorful cloth which was designated as a flag. I would utter words I did not understand in a solemn ritual every single morning in school. Not only did I not question my actions but I didn’t even have the ability at that time to question authority in general. The ‘pledge of allegiance’ was so scared that I confused the practice to what went on in the Catholic Church. Now I realize that both served the same ends.

I want you to understand that public education, as I experienced it, was more an indoctrination process rather than a learning process. Certainly, I wasn’t taught independent critical thinking. Instead, good grades were achieved by memorization. The tests that were given simply asked me to regurgitate exactly what the teacher had instructed me. While in the younger grades there was no choice of classes. When I went into the higher grades I was given a choice but I still had to take the core curriculum. So the choices I had was simply what level of math, science, history, or English that I was taking. I believe I had one or two electives to choose a year.

Saying all this the school was a low-intensity prison. If somebody didn’t show up for school the truancy officer was sent after them. While at school every student needed to be in the classroom during the designated times. To simply walk in the halls required a pass signed by a teacher or another person in authority. The passage in the halls was only allowed between the periods when the bells rang. In this brief period of time, all the students had to rush to their next class. If one didn’t enter the classroom by the ringing of the late bell they were in trouble and punished with detention. This was true even if the poor student was only seconds late.

This process of ‘education’ prepares the population for their civil role in society. Note that we aren’t given extensive teachings about moral culpability or what the constitution teaches. Instead, we are instructed to vote in a two-party system where there is very little practical difference between the parties. We learn enough to follow along but certainly not any wisdom to lead us to something new.

Everybody in the United States is responsible for what the government is doing. I am directly saying that you have a part in these unjust ‘endless’ wars that have been raging for nearly two decades. Just by paying taxes you are willingly participating in this horrid debacle. While your contribution is minute it is still a contribution. Of course, many have no moral objections to the wars while a vast majority simply do not care. or at least care enough to do anything about it.

In the end, the courage to say no is a self-empowering and emancipating process. The process begins when one finds a logical disconnect between what one has been taught as truth and what one experiences as reality. At this juncture, one makes the constant choice of whether to explore the uncomfortable contradictions or to simply fall in line. Seeking the truth will lead one to many unsettling things tearing down sacred pariahs. Once a person becomes aware of the truth the next step is to do something to make things better. This article is a humble attempt in that direction.

There is no justice in this world and over times things get worse and improve. However, a lot of what we get is directly related to how much we fight for it. I for one want to leave a better world for future generations. Disabling the satanic juggernaut know as the ‘military industrial complex’ is indeed a tall order but if we don’t kill the beast it is sure to devour us. The question is ‘Do you have the courage to resist?’

I would like to encourage you to purchase my books. In particular, I am happy to present to you a book of poetry called “Poet To The Poor, Poems Of Hope For The Bottom One Percent” This book has some of my best poetry in it and it explores the present and past from the vantage point of the oppressed.

Photos by Fibonacci Blue,

The Courage To Say No

John Kaniecki

John Kaniecki is a full-time caregiver for his wife Sylvia. He is a published writer and works with the Church of Christ. John has lived with bipolar for over thirty years and has been hospitalized nine times, three of which were committed. John has chronicled his life story in his memoirs "More Than The Madness". Also of note is John's book of poetry "Murmurings Of A Mad Man" which are poems written about being committed in Graystone Psychiatric Hospital. John believes in the power of words to change the world for the better. His website can be seen here. His books can be seen on Amazon. You can visit his personal blog "Turn A Page Or Two" here.

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APA Reference
Kaniecki, J. (2018). The Courage To Say No. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Dec 2018
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