When I graduated from Turner Ashby High School in Dayton, Virginia and went to college in Pennsylvania, I was given the nickname, Rebel. It was partly because of my southern accent, but there were other reasons as well. I didn’t always follow the norm. I was different.
In high school I wasn’t known as one who followed all the rules either. I submitted to authority by paying the dues of rebellion. I ended up being made to run many laps around the gym in winter and the athletic field in summer.
Once I washed all the windows of the FFA (Future Farmers of America) shop at school in atonement for doing things my way. The shop was where they taught vocational agriculture skills. It was the principal’s idea that I and another guy wash the windows together after we got in a fight. (I can’t remember what it was about, but for sure it was over something very important. )
For good or bad, I never learned to follow the crowd.
The church I belonged to taught us we were different. I learned that Jesus taught an upside-down, counter culture, way of life that was supposed to be radically different. So I didn’t mind being a Rebel. OK, I enjoyed it.
Jesus was a rebel and I wanted to follow him, so when the call to the Vietnam war came, I went a different way. I registered as a Conscientious Objector, passed my army physical and was assigned to 1-W civilian service.
This was not an easy time for me, my choice did not make me popular. I lost friends because of my stand. Others who remained true friends went to the war and did not come back.
Now I am 70 years old. I am still a rebel and I still detest war. I have seen how devastating war is and how violence breeds more violence and is never a lasting solution for anything.
Three days a week you can find me working out in a gym. Some people there build up their bodies to look fierce. I do it for peace. With a group of friends, I am in training to climb Africa’s tallest mountain. We are from different backgrounds, different countries and different generations. At the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, we will pray together for world peace.
We would also like to raise one dollar toward ending war for each foot we climb.
For now we are sweating in the gym, together with some who train for the martial arts. We are body building with a difference.
Please join us. In prayer for world peace and if you can, give some money to any organization you know that is working to bring an end to war.