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  • Writer's pictureFr. Daniel S.J. Scheid SCP

What is Father Dan Thinking? 7-9-23

“You can’t be for peace if you support nuclear weapons.”

A young man, sitting on the sidewalk at Haight and Ashbury, was repeating this while looking at me, so naturally I crossed the street to find out more. I asked him if he was making a statement or an accusation.

“Do you pay taxes?” he asked. “I do,” I answered. “Then you support nuclear weapons,” he said.

Life is full of contradictions, isn’t it? I oppose nuclear weapons, and I fully realize that the taxes I pay to the United States Treasury help pay for our nation’s nuclear arsenal. I render to Caesar.

I asked the young man, Andrew is his name, if he pays taxes. He doesn’t. I asked him if he has an income. He pointed to his guitar and said he plays that. I said I envied that he was able to live into the strength of his convictions. He said that I could be free, too, if I wanted to be.

I have a friend, Kathy Kelly, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who is a committed peace activist. She intentionally keeps her income below the tax threshold, so she doesn’t pay taxes that support our nation’s global war efforts. But she does accept donations that support her cause from people like me with taxable incomes, whose taxes support the very structures she opposes. Life is full of contradictions.

I asked Andrew if taxes did any good. He went off on a tangent about the legality of our nation’s monetary supply, so I pressed him to answer my question. What about that bus that just went by? My taxes support that. Or the sidewalk that you’re sitting on?

I pulled a dollar from my pocket and asked if he used money. Sure, I have to live, he said. Even though you say this U.S. dollar is illegal? Life is full of contradictions.

The man sitting next to Andrew, who didn’t seem to be associated with him, had a cardboard sign asking for money to go to Santa Cruz. I gave him the dollar, and five more. In the moment I didn’t want to compromise Andrew’s convictions. But if I see Andrew again, I’ll give him a few dollars. He has to live, right?

God’s blessings and peace,



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