Old Chatham Quakers hosted Michael Mears play This Evil Thing in early March.
The title is a reference to conscription in WWI. Bert Brocklesby, the main character in This Evil Thing, is a conscientious objector and faces many deprivations for his deeply held beliefs including the risk of death when shipped to France.
What is so profound about this man is that he chooses conscientious objection at every turn; even when he's told the consequence of his choice might be execution. He refuses to fight. He refuses to march, He refuses to build roads that would be used for war. And he even refuses to peel potatoes because they'll feed the officer corps.
As a conchie (conscientious objector) he accepts all these risks, humiliations and deprivations even when given a choice at every turn to stop objecting and fight.
I was present during the play to the the moment at Golgotha when Christ says "forgive them father for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) I often wondered why the most powerful being in the universe would chose suffering and death instead of smiting his enemies and ushering in a new era?
I can only speculate here, but I imagine suffering for something (vs winning something by force) opens the heart and engages the will.
Brocklesby had choice. He could have killed, but he could not because his heart was opened first to the suffering of Christ and then to his fellow man. The powerful premise of This Evil Thing is the effect of conscience on the mind and body. Once awake you can't go back to sleep.
And this is why conscientious objectors are feared so much. Not because being a CO is an act of defiance, but because it is an act of faith in the higher calling of humanity. Killing and destruction is easy. It is the path of least resistance. It is hardwired into our biology to fight. It takes something to choose a different path. But Brocklesby took the other path and took his lumps to shine a bright light on the possibility of peace.
To read Michael Mears Blog follow this link: https://michaelmears.org/blog/