It’s been almost eight years since my son, Casey, was killed in Iraq on 04/04/04.
The last time we saw him was when he came home for Christmas in 2003. As most people (with functioning hearts) can probably imagine, this time of year is hard for anyone who has buried a child no matter what the cause of death was.
When Casey was first killed many well-meaning people told me that “time heals all.” I have discovered that the farther away I get from that horrible day, the less the physical pain of loss is, but the wound never heals, it is just like a chronic condition that one learns to live with.
I have had some wonderful experiences in the last past seven years since we Occupied Crawford, Tx, but those experiences are tinged with the fog of loss. Even the profound joy of grandchildren is dampened by the absence of their uncle. The same things that make me happy about the babies also make me sad. Each one carries a piece of their uncle in them and I know he would love each and everyone of them so much. All this is without having to wonder if he would be a father by now, or not—which is also so hard.
As I have previously stated in other articles and speeches I have made, when Casey was killed for lies and profit in Iraq, I decided, out of guilt at first, that I would not pay my income taxes. The more I became involved in peace and human rights’ work, the more my guilt expanded to a principled stand against paying for the crimes of my government and I have not filed or paid my income taxes since 2005.
Now, the IRS is hounding me. It wants my financial information and my money/property to pay what it says that I owe. Any argument highlighting my opposition to what the government does with that money is considered by the IRS as “frivolous.”
Here is Dictionary.com’s definition of “frivolous:”
1. Characterized by lack of seriousness or sense: frivolous conduct.
2. Self-indulgently carefree; unconcerned about or lacking any serious purpose.
3. (Of a person) given to trifling or undue levity: a frivolous, empty-headed person.
4. Of little or no weight, worth, or importance; not worthy of serious notice: a frivolous suggestion.
According to the above definitions, my reason for not paying the IRS is anything but “frivolous.”
I don’t consider burying a child, “frivolous.”
I don’t consider war crimes such as bombing villages with drone technology, “frivolous.”
I don’t consider imprisoning and torturing people based solely on his religious affiliation and geographical location, “frivolous.”
I don’t consider war for the sole purpose of profit and total imperial hegemony, “frivolous.”
Indeed, all of the above (and much more) are deadly serious activities, and my opposition to them is not “frivolous” but also, deadly serious.
I can’t stress hard enough how the rest of my life will be clouded by Casey’s death. The IRS can threaten, me, a tax resister with prison, yet the institution cannot realize that I am already in a virtual prison–forged by the Empire with lies and violence. I am in a prison of grief that I can never escape. And as a tax resister, I have dedicated my life to antithetical American living—no job, no income, and no possessions, besides my personal clothes and furniture (which is actually a very liberating way to live if one can pull it off).
In our society and during this season where “frivolity” seems to be measured by how many pieces of plastic consumer crap we can buy on credit, I reject that paradigm, I mourn my loss, I appreciate the good and I rededicate my life to peace.