Posted by: Bruce Robinson on Nov 03, 2009
Two Iraq war veterans turned peace activists are winding down their cross-country bicycle tour with a visit in Santa Rosa today, one of the last stops in what they’ve dubbed their “Contagious Love Experiment.”
As a soldier, Conner Curran came to believe that the use of force could be justified if it was used to accomplish something good. But he says being a soldier taught him that belief was not really true.
It’s a bold undertaking, setting out to ride across the country, not knowing people in most of the places you’ll wind up in. But Josh and Conner have made good use of some online resources to help smooth their way.
On their Contagious Love Experience blog, Josh and Conner take turns reflecting on their various day-to-day encounters and experiences. They also detail their personal histories and reasons for what they are doing. This is an except from Josh Siebert's account:
"When I got back from my 14 month deployment to Iraq in April of 08, I planned on taking the money I had been given to kill and destroy my nation’s “enemies” and walking to the military pay headquarters and giving that money back, telling them it wasn’t something I’d participate in anymore and if I had to serve the rest of my enlistment in jail, then that’s where I needed to be.
"Then I learned of conscientious objection, a militarily recognized status that someone’s beliefs has changed so that they are no longer compatible with war. I debated with myself over which option to take. Finally, I figured that as many problems as I had with the system, at least they showed some degree of respect for people’s beliefs, so I would give it a fair shot.
"As I waited until April of 09 for final approval, my plan of spite, of throwing the money back in the government’s face evolved into the walk I’m on now. If I am saying no to war, I want to find out what to say yes to. I want to take a negative and invest it into a positive. In a country where war is preached from the churches, I want to do a little to remember the man who those churches are built for, the man who visited the orphans, served the poor, clothed the naked, fed the hungry… and loved. So that’s what I’ve set out to do and I hope that that love is contagious."
Josh Steiber and Conner Curran with bring their Contagious Love Experiment to the Sonoma County Peace and Justice Center, 467 Sebastopol Avenue (near Julliard Park) in Santa Rosa, on Tuesday Nov. 3 at 7 pm
To see where Josh and Conner have been, and where they are headed, view their itinerary here and scroll down to get to the current month. You can also watch this video about their trip.