WARNING: The decision to defect means life and death

Defecting can be noble

If you are defecting from a tyrannical government, we commend you. You can also take comfort in the knowledge that many other people will see you as a hero. That said your life is now in great danger. Even in the best of times, groups such as the Mafia and dictatorships do not tolerate defectors.

If you need a reason to defect, see Government Response. This page describes some of what your government expects of you and what your dictator plans for your people. If you defect during a government crackdown, there is no going back. There is also no middle ground, and rarely second chances.

Before you consider defection, there is much soul-searching needed. The most important question to ask: Is the alternative better than preserving things as they are? Not all revolutions are good nor are all civil wars bad. In either case; however, the result is often bad for those caught in the middle. After all the endured suffering, during and after a conflict, life may still be completely the opposite from what you were led to expect.

Choose a side

When battles are raging, some of us feel we have to choose one side or the other. Others feel that remaining neutral is the best course of action. Since each situation is different, along with people’s motivations, there is no way I can council anyone on his or her choice. All I can say is what I think I would do in certain situations, or better yet, what I hope I would do.

How can you know if your choice is correct? The truth is, in most cases you cannot. In my way of thinking it boils down to two choices. Would I fight for survival, or would I fight for what is right. Only history determines who was right in the end, and those who win are usually the ones who write history.

In one thing, I am certain. Many of the wars fought would have me on the losing side. I am more of a moralist than a realist. This is not to say that I am right and others wrong. It does say that where many would live, I would be dead fighting a lost cause. However, just because someone dies in the present does not mean that a spark isn’t lit for the future. Martyrs often rise up, stronger than ever.

One person’s cause is to die for what’s right. Others cause is more personal. They just want to live.

When people are willing to die to oust a leader, everyone should at least ask themselves the following questions: Is the person in power, wracked with guilt when they are the target? Do they have a sense of morality and humanity? Do they talk of ending the war through reasonable negotiations?

Alternatively, does the person in power go on and on about how their people love them. Do they use derogatory names against those they are fighting? Are they incapable of guilt, and so full of themselves, that they would prefer to watch their country go up in flames just to stay in power?

How many deaths does it take before most of us would call it quits, and step down for the sake of our nation?

For me some choices are more obvious. I would gladly fight for people’s rights. I will fight for freedom and justice. I would even fight to keep a corrupt country together, if I believed the alternative would be worse.

What I would never do, is fight solely to keep one person in power. That thought disgusts me. The only thing that disgusts me more are the people who choose to kill and destroy everything I hold dear, just to keep that person in power.

Choose a time

Picking the correct time for defection is easier said than done. As proven too often the time is going to pick you. Once the hour is upon you remaining undecided is no longer an option.

It is best to find the answers to the following questions, before the last day of decision. You have to know what your fellow soldiers plan to do under orders. How well do you know your comrades? Is there ANYONE you can trust who feels as you do?

As you gather information on how your comrades will react, do not show ANY emotion one way or the other. Your goal is to find out what people around you are thinking – NOT to show them what you think. Soldiers in your unit are making painful decisions that could haunt all of you for the rest of your lives.

Your commander will no doubt have pep rallies planned, with speeches geared to psych people up to do the unthinkable. Those with a conscience should avoid these speeches to keep from falling under its spell. However, avoiding these speeches makes you a suspect.

At the very least, note those of your compatriots who take these speeches to heart. Also, note anyone who boisterously proclaims that the opposition is all-evil. These people are likely to become your new enemy. On the other hand, they could simply be using their own defense mechanism.

Decisions, decisions, there are no guarantees.

If you cannot get a sense to how defecting will turn out, consider the following:

  • Are you able to protect yourself?
  • Will you be willing to fire on unarmed civilians?
  • Will you be willing to fire on your comrades, to protect your own life or those of your countrymen?
  • Would death be preferable to a lifetime of guilt?

Most soldiers are aware that defectors are shot in many armies. What is harder to come to grips with is refusing an order to shoot into the crowd sets soldiers up to be shot in the back by their brothers in arms. You could consider shooting over the crowd’s heads, and defect another day.

The most dangerous defection

Consider if you would better serve as a spy (See: Espionage). Do you have the nerves and temperament to get away with it? The epitaph for many spies who are caught is, “They were shot without mercy, after being interrogated and tortured.”

Troop movements and plans are invaluable to the opposition. If your own movements are limited, or if you have not made contact with the opposition, this may not be your best option.

If you plan on this route, you need to make contact with the outside. Keep your eyes open for opportunities, and be ready with information that will prove valuable. Earning trust from the opposition will be difficult at first, but having valuable information will go a long way. It could also save your life in the end.

These are all tough, unthinkable, and in many cases once in a lifetime decisions. May you find the strength to do the right thing, make the right choices, and save your soul in the process. Cross your fingers and good luck.

by Scott M. Eaton
Created: June 22, 2011
Modified: March 26, 2013
One comment on “Defecting
  1. Buff says:

    Great article, thank you again for writing.

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