Monday, April 14, 2014

Break Co-dependency with Empire

Break Co-dependency with the Empire
Cindy Sheehan

"Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every wo(man) a conscience, then? I think that we should be wo(men) first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious wo(men) is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made wo(men) a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice."
Henry David Thoreau: Civil Disobedience 

When my children were young, my oldest Casey was 10; I transferred from Cerritos Community College in Norwalk to UCLA. Although I was familiar with the work of Henry David Thoreau, I was assigned Walden and Civil Disobedience in one of my classes.

After devouring Thoreau’s work, I tried to convince my husband to “cash out” and “check out” of the rat race. This was back in the “good ol’ days” of the ‘80s. I didn’t like what I saw of the corruption of government and the growing crass-consumerism and over-consumption of the society we lived in. I guess I have always been a starry-eyed idealist, but I cajoled my husband for days about moving to the woods with the children and creating some kind of paradise on earth. He resisted and here we are.

I think many people get trapped into accepting corruption, war, oppression, poverty, pollution, debt/wage slavery, etc., as normal that to try and wrest ourselves away from the disease of living in an Empire seems nigh onto impossible and it’s all “fun and games” until your firstborn is killed in another immoral war for profit. 

"The mass of wo(men) lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation." HD Thoreau

 Casey was killed in Iraq on April 04, 2004. I was in a daze of shock, anger, disbelief and pain when I jointly filed with my husband that year, but after I began to recover from the shock and confront the Empire, I had to first confront the role I had played in my own dear son’s murder.

I had to admit to myself that my addiction to driving a car contributed to my son’s death and destruction of the environment. I believe one of the primary goals of the US military is to protect and expand the interests of Big Oil. I would eventually dump the car and take to the streets on public transportation, my feet, or biking and come to the conclusion that saving the environment is obviously the most important issue.

To me, my biggest crime was funding the very institution that not only robbed me of Casey, but also has murdered, tortured, displaced, or wounded millions of people throughout its bloody history. George Bush and Dick Cheney didn’t invent Imperial Wars for Profit Based on Lies and the Bush regime wasn’t the first, or the last, to employ those murderous tactics.

So, I searched my soul, but I didn’t have to do it too long, or too hard, because I had been predisposed to withdrawing my funds and consent from the USG for quite some time and publicly became a War Tax Resister. First it was about Casey, and next it was about everyone in harm’s way of the Empire.

I could not, or would not, kill anyone myself, so I will not and cannot pay anyone else to do it.

I could not and would not torture anyone or anything, so, the same. 

I cannot dump most of my budget into feeding the evil and voracious war machine while ignoring human needs of those who struggle to survive under the boot heel of the war economy.

If Barack Obama came up to me and said, “Cindy, can you write me a check for $5k to help me buy another hellfire missile,” I would say, “hell no, take a hike,” so why should I funnel my funds through the IRS to be disbursed to the Military Industrial Complex?

Now, I know the IRS has made it its mission to terrify and persecute the citizens of this country, but I had to do a few things to become a War Tax Resister.

First, I had to divest myself of anything the IRS could steal from me, which were basically my house and car. HD Thoreau convinced me decades ago that, “you don’t own your things, your things own you,” so that wasn’t as hard as many fellow Americans would think.

“We are all poor in respect to a thousand savage comforts, though surrounded by luxuries...for our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden 

"Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!" I had to live fully a precept from another Thoreau disciple: Mahatma Gandhi: “Live simply, so others may simply live.” It is so liberating to cut the ties between oneself and ones possessions and return to the basics of what is really important: Family, friends, love, and joy. None of those things can be bought, and if they can, I don’t want them.

Secondly, I had to come to terms with the fact that if I took this path, there could be a chance that I could go to prison. I don’t want to go to prison and have spent enough nights in jail to know this for certainty, but I cannot live with myself free, or not, knowing that I was being financially co-dependent with a murderous entity like the US Government.

According to the National Priorities Project, my state, California, sends 65 billion annually to the Feds for the so-called War on Terror since 9/11/2001. We have so many needs in this state that would produce a healthy economy, healthy environment and healthy humans that we could use that money for, so I also do not pay state taxes.

Instead of supporting The Death State (thanks Arthur Silber), my money goes towards making a society where I would be honored and eager to pay taxes: one where peace, universal-single payer healthcare, education, housing, sustainable farming and energy production, were fully funded, high-quality, and accessible for all.

Many times people will post pictures on social media of little children's mangled bodies that have been torn apart by hellfire missiles dropped from US drones in far off places; or of torture victims; or of police state violence here in the USA and say something like: "Your Tax Dollars at Work." My response is, "not mine." My conscience is clear in that regard, but for years, my hands were bathed in blood and the stains are still there.

There are many ways to be a War Tax Resister, all or part.
Please go to the War Tax Resistance CoordinatingCommittee’s website for more information.

Stop funding things you oppose while simultaneously working for the things that will improve conditions for everyone on the planet: peace, justice, environmental sustainability and income justice and equality.

The US needs to calm the hell down.


  1. Yeah, completely true. USA needs to calm down all others and take initiative to stop war and tell all to live with peace. The empire is in USA hand. They should indeed do this.

  2. Cindy, the idea I like most about this blog post is its inescapable logic. We cannot be both anti-war and payers of taxes that feed the war machine.

    Recently, I've been discussing with a friend the idea of peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is something for which we must work. It does not happen simply because we stop feeding the Pentagon, the MIC, and the 1%. It does require that we take actions, such as those you describe here. Once we have done so, however, we must then move on to create and maintain a peaceful society.



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