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Jacek Borcz’s last words

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Jacek Borcz’s last words before the Military Court in Koszalin on the 17th of November, 1987

Respected Public Prosecutor, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Peace is a matter of the first importance, a great hope, and a challenge which is always well-timed and because of this, please let me quote a passage from the Peace Message delivered by John Paul IInd the 18th World Peace Day: “The world of justice and peace cannot be built with words only, neither can it be done by external forces. it must be desired and it must result from people’s will.” As we can judge from these words, the preservation of peace depends on every one of us, on every man of good will, including myself.

The letter I sent to the Ministry of National Defense was not a sign of my ill will, nor of my bad intention. I just wanted to explain why I could not fulfill that honorable duty, and why I had refused to accept the notice to be drafted to civil Defense red. note: in Poland, civil Defense (OC) includes military training and taking an oath]. until now, I have not received any constructive answer to my request. The only response I did get was a subsequent summons to the Military Recruiting Board, where I was threatened with public prosecution if I kept refusing service. As you can see, the threat has be en carried out. When I asked why, regardless of my excellent health, I was directed to a civil Defense unit in Police red. note: the name of a Polish city], I was told that the upper echelons considered me as an “anti-socialist element. II Because the conversation was held without witnesses, I was also told that my desire to seek a true peace might be dangerous.

As for me, I am not in favor of any army, nor am I against this political system, even though some people alleged that I am. Also I am not an enemy of our Constitution. I just want to be free and independent. To be free means freedom of choice for me. It means to live in peace with my conscience, my beliefs, and without deceit. I could not maintain my dignity if I kept in one of my pockets a Holy Bible and in another a book containing an adverse ideology. One has got to make his choice; one cannot serve two Lords. I have made my choice, and for this I am now standing before you accused of a very dangerous and harmful act. Indeed, my arrest warrant claimed that “the act committed by the suspect was characterized by a considerable degree of danger.” I am dangerous!

The history of mankind is a history of conflicts. Justice based on mutual love between people is a necessary condition of preserving peace in the world. It is not enough to be born a man, there is the need to be a man. Today, not only world peace is threatened, but human existence as well. If so, it is imperative and quite natural for a young person like me to opt for peace, because the future of the world depends on us. Unfortunately, a big race has begun, and the race is called the “fight for peace.” The fight for peace is being conducted by well-armed troops. In the name of peace, military industry is being developed, prisons are being filled, people are being killed, nature is being devastated, and missiles are being installed. All this is accompanied by an ideological fight, the adherents of which try to persuade us “that our SS-2 missiles are peaceful, but Pershing missiles are ready for war.” After all, we all know that the East-West power balance is an absurdity.

It is a pity that people who do not want to fight for peace in that way are condemned as “hostile forces, anti-socialist elements inspired by Western imperialism.” Such accusations are groundless slanders. Another pity is that there are people who want to create an artificial menace by installing new missiles in order to “strengthen peace, ” though they know very well that lasting peace cannot be based on the threat of mutual annihilation. In the Holy Writ, we read that ”’He who lives by the sword dies by the sword,” but at present it does’ not happen like that. The world pays billions for the “fight for peace, ” but can we be sure that our tomorrow will be safe if we know that both superpowers have collected in their arsenals enough weapons to destroy mankind? Perhaps we should ask ourselves if we really know what peace is. Certainly, all of us know that we are obliged to preserve peace, but what does this really mean? In my opinion, “peace” means renunciation of violence in any form; it means life without fear and anxiety, without the necessity of being vigilant for self-defense, and without the desire to destroy other human beings or to gain an advantage over them. I have had enough of the gap between words and action. I wish people could live together without fear.

I desire to find myself face to face with a man acting in accordance with his conscience. In order to achieve this, my responsibility makes me refuse any cooperation with the system imposed on me, which is foreign to me and which I consider destructive. That is why I have refused to accept my draft card. Our military in its present form is not necessary, for it defends the authorities, not peace. To quote Plato: “Each government establishes laws that comply with its interest.” He is right.

Then, what purposes and whose interests does the military in a totalitarian system serve? It resolves internal conflicts, as on December 13, 1981 when the General declared war on his own nation. I am also against using military service as an instrument to shape the ideological attitudes of soldier. The practice of ideological indoctrination means transforming soldiers into ruthless tools in the hands of an institution carrying out the ideological and political interests of the Polish People’s Republic’s authorities.

Leaders of states, instead of promoting reconciliation and links between their nations, build barriers that isolate them. All this does not serve the purpose of peace at all. Also the production of military toys will not help bring up future generations in the spirit of peace. Despite what some older men say, the military does not help one to develop a moral happening during maneuvers corporals. Recently I have had a chance to see how experienced soldiers humiliate the inexperienced ones, whom they call “cats.” That is why, in my letter to the Ministry of National Defense, I wrote that the military is a school for thoughtless obedience, for breaking human conscience and for tramping the ideals for which we strive.

I don’t want to learn to kill, or to hate another man just because he speaks a different language. Our power does not come from military force, but from a solidarity among people of good will. Millions of people in the world die every day because of insufficient medical care; .many starve to death while tons of bombs, guns, and aircraft, bearing various missiles, are being built. Whereas every year 13 to 18 million people die from hunger, billions are spent to build weapons. It is the same as dropping a bomb similar to the one which destroyed Hiroshima every three days. Poland’s 1985 military budget amounted to 315 billion zlotys’, whereas 49 billion zlotys were spent for the protection of our natural environment. All of us perfectly know the scope of degradation of our environment, and the direction we are heading because of this–towards a holocaust, of course: but it seems that somebody wants it, and even wishes to reach it faster.

Perhaps all I have said sounds unreal and utopian, but, Your Honor, I do not want to take part in my own destruction. I realize that behind everything there is a powerful state machine, which tries to impose its way of thinking on me, but I say–“No.”(…)

I would like to emphasize that I am ready to join any alternative service which does not have anything to do with the military, and which will not be hazardous to my health. It could be a job in Health Care, municipal service, or somewhere else where I could, in a humanitarian way, contribute to build a better world based on love of one’s neighbor. We should remember that without deep and widespread respect for freedom, man has no chance for maintaining peace. For peace must be made, not fought for. Thank you.

[On November 17, 1987, Jacek Borcz was sentenced to 3 years in prison.]



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