Nein, meine Söhne geb ich nicht …….. (dedicated to mormongandhi)

15

May 4, 2011 by Robert Poort

Song by Reinhard Mey – English translation by Robert Poort 

I thought I’d better write you right away
and stop you right there in your tracks
You don’t have to check your list for too long
to see that I too have two sons
I love them both, I can tell you that
more than my life, more than my eye sight
And no, they will not carry arms
No, my sons I will not give you
No, my sons I will not give you

I taught them respect for life,
for each creature the greatest regard
I have taught them mercy and forgiveness
and as much as I could always taught them love
Now you will not spoil them with hate
No cause, no honor, no duty
is worthwhile to kill and die for
No, my sons I will not give you
No, my sons I will not give you

And certainly not for you has their mother
brought them with anguish into this world
Not for you and not as cannon fodder
Not for you stood I many feverish nights
desperately by their little beds
and cooled a glowing little face
untill we could rest, exhausted
No, my sons I will not give you
No, my sons I will not give you

They will not march and fall into line
not persist, nor fight till the end
not freeze to death on a godforsaken field
while you sit in your soft chairs
Protect the children from all danger
is after all my damned father’s duty
And that also means I will protect them from you
No, my sons I will not give you
No, my sons I will not give you

I will teach them disobedience
to resist and not give in
to rebel against every order
and not to bow for authority
I will teach them to go their own way
not to be a puppet on a string, not for worldly power
not to stand at attention for anyone, but for oneself
No, my sons I will not give you
No, my sons I will not give you

I would rather with them flee
than have you make them your serfs
rather go with them abroad
into poverty and as a thief in the night
We only have this one short life
I swear and say it straight in your face:
They will not give it for your illusions
No, my sons I will not give you
No, my sons I will not give you

Reinhard Mey is a well-known German singer and songwriter. Mey’s politics tend to be moderate to left-leaning. He speaks out in particular for freedom and non-violence, and not only in his songs (for example, he participated in a demonstration at the beginning of 2003 against the coming war in Iraq). Strongly influenced by the French chanson, Mey’s political songs were relatively scarce among his works at the beginning, but they have increased in quantity over time, such that there is usually at least one song on each new album that concerns itself with politics. His 2004 album, Nanga Parbat, for example, includes “Alles OK in Guantanamo Bay”, a song critical of the U.S. detention facility on the island of Cuba.

There are those that are ‘conscientious objectors’ or ‘war resisters’ to military service, taking the call to ‘renounce war’ literally, an area that remains largely unexplored in our mormon communities. In an increasingly international church we’ll find young Latter-day Saints all around the world facing dilemma’s like what to do when drafted or coerced into the military by ruthless dictators who inevitably prove to be war criminals, or by manipulative politicians who simply lie about their motives. It thus becomes literally a matter of life and death for young Latter-day Saints to be well-informed participants in society as president Gordon B. Hinckley suggested.

Unfortunately also, far too often the military option is considered because of a perceived or real lack of other options, perhaps as a way out of poverty, a way to get an education, a lack of self-confidence or a need for discipline, all avoiding the moral issue that should be addressed, the one that demands from us to ‘renounce war’ (D&C 98:16).

Renouncing war, often becomes just a way of saying ‘war is not nice’, rather than saying a resolute no. We come up with endless rationalizations that in effect cause us to embrace rather than renounce war. War becomes commonplace instead of the extreme exception.The social-political systems that have us in their grip have seduced and reduced us to their violence, and we have surrendered. One only has to consider the amount of violence we allow to come into our living rooms, our obsession for weapons, and our willingness to support political leaders that are responsible for hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties in the name of freedom.

However, every once in a while, prophetic voices break through the political correctness, pointing their finger to us like the prophet Nathan to King David, accusing us of perverting the ways of the lord…

President Spencer W. Kimball:
“We are a warlike people…When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel–ships, planes, missiles, fortifications–and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching: “Love your enemies…”
(Spencer W. Kimball, “The False Gods We Worship,” Ensign (June 1976): 4.)

 

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Nein, meine Söhne geb ich nicht …….. (dedicated to mormongandhi)

  1. tariq says:

    I enjoyed this post very much. Thanks, Mormonen.

  2. Robert Poort says:

    Thanks Tariq,

    I stand somewhat corrected by my comment that “the area of conscientious objectors or war resisters to militairy service, is an area that remains largely unexplored in our mormon communities”, because I just read this great post by Ron Madson:

    https://themormonworker.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/could-you-qualify-as-a-conscientious-objector/

    Thanks very much for your insights Ron, a worthy tribute to your father for sure !
    Perhaps we can explore the issue further by adding more posts to this category which I just created
    in the category options on this site. In many countries the military draft is no longer in effect -but could always resurface of course – however in many other nations for young latter-day saints and others this issue is very much a reality. And yes, there are of course ample opportunities to bring this issue to the attention of those who are thinking to join the military!

  3. Ron Madson says:

    Powerful and moving! This line caught my attention and hits the mark, IMO:
    “Renouncing war, often becomes just a way of saying ‘war is not nice’, rather than saying a resolute no.” perfect

  4. Robert Poort says:

    Interesting quotes from the archives of the MESJ site:

    Mormons Speak Out on…
    Peace

    Joseph F. Smith: For years it has been held that peace comes only by preparation for war; the present conflict should prove that peace comes only by preparing for peace, through training the people in righteousness and justice, and selecting rulers who respect the righteous will of the people.1

    Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark & David O. McKay: [T]he Church is and must be against war….It cannot regard war as a righteous means of settling international disputes; these should and could be settled–the nations agreeing–by peaceful negotiation and adjustment.2

    George Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark & David O. McKay: By building a huge armed establishment, we shall belie our protestations of peace and peaceful intent and force other nations to a like course of militarism…3

    Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner & Marion G. Romney: While recognizing the need for strength to repel any aggressor, we are enjoined by the word of God to “renounce war and proclaim peace.” We call upon the heads of nations to sit down and reason together in good faith to resolve their differences.4

    Spencer W. Kimball: We are a warlike people…When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel–ships, planes, missiles, fortifications–and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching: “Love your enemies…”5

    Spencer W. Kimball: Father, we are concerned with the political world of today and that nations seem to need only the lighting of a match to bring war and desolation and destruction. Bless, we pray thee, the leaders of nations, that they may rule wisely and righteously and give thy people freedom to worship thee in truth and righteousness. Stay the powers, our Father, that would bring us to the brink of annihilation. 5a

    Marion G.Romney: When I was in the military service during the First World War, we were told that we were “making the world safe for democracy”; we were fighting a war to end all wars. When my eldest son was in the military during the Second World War, he was told that he was preserving the cause of liberty and freedom. The same rationale has continued for the past several decades. 5b

    Russell M. Nelson: Because of the long history of hostility upon the earth, many feel that peace is beyond hope. I disagree. Peace is possible….Resolution of present political problems will require much patience and negotiation. The process would be enhanced greatly if pursued prayerfully.6

    Eugene England: LDS theology offers a guide to better conduct. I believe its fundamental message is that “effective pacifism”–even unilateral disarmament if accompanied by massive efforts to extend intelligent, creative, tough-minded but loving help to other nations…–is the ideal solution, the only one that could make our enemies no longer enemies…7

    Edwin Brown Firmage: Jesus knew that no dispute is finally solved by violence. The underlying cause usually remains, simply exacerbated by the evil progeny spawned by war: hatred of our brothers and sisters, as if they were somehow fundamentally different from ourselves; the teaching and glorification of violence; lust; ignorance; propaganda; and suffering, starvation, disease, and death.8

    NOTES
    1. Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, comp. John Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939), 421.
    2. In Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, comp. James R. Clark, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 6:158.
    3. In Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6:241.
    4. “Christmas Message from the First Presidency,” Church News (20 Dec. 1980): 3.
    5. Spencer W. Kimball, “The False Gods We Worship,” Ensign (June 1976): 4.
    5a Spencer W. Kimball, Temple Dedicatory Prayer Washington DC Temple 19-22 Nov 1974
    5b Marion G. Romney, “The Price of Peace,” Ensign, Oct.1983, 3
    6. Russell M. Nelson, “Blessed Are the Peacemakers,” Ensign (Nov. 2002): 39.
    7. Eugene England, “Can Nations Love Their Enemies?”, Dialogues With Myself (Midvale, UT: Orion Books, 1984), 148.
    8. Edwin Brown Firmage, “Violence and the Gospel: The Teachings of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies 25 (Winter 1985):40.

  5. nat kelly says:

    This is beautiful. That song is incredible.

    I would love to put it up at fMh. Would you folks be interested in cross-posting it there as a guest post?

    • Robert Poort says:

      Sure Nat, love to share it with anyone interested!
      Forgive my ignorance, but what does fMh stand for?

      Robert

      • Robert Poort says:

        Oops, my ignorance indeed knows no bounds ….
        But I quickly recovered by adding fMh to our “solidarity” links on The Mormon Worker homepage !

        Robert

      • nat kelly says:

        Great! I’ll put it up sometime in the next couple of days. And thanks for adding our link to your site!

      • nat kelly says:

        I’m technologically challenged, and don’t know how to make my text do a center align on wordpress. 😦

        Do you mind if it has a slightly different look on our page?

  6. Robert Poort says:

    No problem.
    I think this is how it works though:

    go to “edit post”
    switch from HTML to Visual
    go to the symbol for Align Center

    • nat kelly says:

      Hmmm….. I can’t see any way to do that. I have it scheduled for tonight. I’ll keep fiddling with the format, but if I can’t figure it out, I think it looks okay.

      I really wish you could just copy and paste from Word onto WordPress!

  7. nat kelly says:

    Here’s the link to the post: http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=5309

    Thanks again for letting me share!

    • Robert Poort says:

      You’re very welcome Nat.
      Besides a Mormon Worker I am an angry grandpa of nine grandchildren with diapers to change. Thank you all for your comments: in our mormon faith tradition we’re very good in proclaiming peace but lousy in renouncing war as in Doctrine and Covenants 98:16.

      The word renouncing has a radical meaning:

      1.Formally declare one’s abandonment of (a claim, right, or possession)
      2.Refuse to recognize or abide by any longer
      3.Declare that one will no longer engage in or support
      4.Reject and stop using or consuming
      5.Refuse or resign a right or position, esp. one as an heir or trustee

      Too radical for law abiding Latter-day Saints?
      Who’s law are we abiding?
      Did we notice the radical language pres. Kimball used in his quote?

      “We train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching.”

      Rather than publicly renouncing war, Latter-day Saints have a tendency to speak of immorality almost solely in a sexual context, so it should really hit home when pres. Kimball calls us “perverts”!

      • Ron Madson says:

        Robert, well said as usual. I appreciate your five definitions of the word “renounce.” I amy steal those for future reference.
        I hope you do not have to change the grandchildren diapers. If I had to change my five I would be even more of a bitter old man…

      • Robert Poort says:

        Haha, even though I wouldn’t mind, I must admit I can’t remember changing diapers of one of my nine grandchildren either …
        It was solely a reference to the motto of the site of: “Feminist Mormon Housewives, angry activists with diapers to change” !
        I guess at age 58 I’m in that in-between-stage where I’m too old to have to change any baby diapers, and still too young to have someone else change my diapers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 258 other followers

Categories

Archives

%d bloggers like this: