Leo Tolstoy
· The Circle of Reading
Translated by Dmitry Fadeyev

January 22

Under no circumstances can murder be considered anything other than the rudest and clearest violation of God’s law, which is expressed in all religious teachings and in the human conscience.

1

Where is Christ? Where is his teaching? Where can one find it in the Christian nations? It is not in the institutions; it is not in the laws, permeated by the soul of unjust inequality; it is not in the rights, permeated by egotism. Where is Christ’s teaching? It is in what is to come, being prepared by the work in the depths of human nature; it is in the movement that stirs the people from one end of the earth to another; it is in the aspirations of pure souls and righteous hearts; it is in everyone’s consciousness, for everyone knows that the present cannot continue, because it is evil, because it denies charity and brotherhood, because it is a heritage of the tribe of Cain and has already been rejected, subject to be scattered by the breath of God.

— Lamennais

2

What is military service? I will tell you what. The moment a young man grows up, becomes strong and capable of helping his parents, he is taken to a reception, ordered to undress, is examined and ordered to swear on the cross and the Gospel that he will obey his superiors in everything and will kill everyone they tell him to kill. And when he obeys this order, which is repulsive to reason, to conscience, and even to the letter of Christ’s law, expressed in the Gospel, he is dressed up in a uniform, given a rifle, taught how to shoot and is sent to kill people—his brothers. The people whom he is ordered to kill had done him no harm, he has never seen them, but he shoots them because he swore to do this on the Gospel—on the same Gospel in which it is not only said that one must not swear or kill, but that one must not get angry at one’s brother.

3

Military service in general corrupts people, placing those who enter it into a state of complete idleness, i.e. the absence of rational and useful work, and freeing them from common human obligations, which are replaced only by the nominal honor of the regiment, uniform and standard, as well as unlimited power over other people on one side, and slavish obedience to one’s superiors on the other.

The idleness of military life is especially corrupting because if such a life were led by anyone other than a military man, he could not but feel ashamed of it in the depth of his soul. Military men think that this is how things must be, they are proud and boast about living this way, especially at a time of war. “We are ready to sacrifice our lives in battle, and therefore such a careless, merry life is not only excusable, but is necessary for us. And so we lead it.”

4

One man should not kill. If he kills then he is a criminal, a murderer. Two, ten, a hundred people, if they do this then they are murderers. But a state or a nation can kill however many it likes, and this will not be murder, but beneficial, good work. One has only to gather more people, and the massacre of tens of thousands of people turns into innocent work. But how many people are required for this? That is the question. One cannot steal and rob, but a whole nation can. But how many are required for this? Why should one, ten, a hundred people not break God’s laws, whereas a great many can?

— Adin Ballou


One and the same Divine Source dwells in the body of every human being, and thus neither a single human being, nor a gathering of people have the right to violate this established union between the Divine Source and the human body, i.e. to deprive a human being of life.