Regis College Senior Honors Program
Thesis - Open Access
Number of Pages
This poem grasps at the serious problem of conscience which confronts a simple laborer who is building something, a weapon. Any weapon, whether sword or atomic warhead, cannot be thought of as a morally neutral object, as most weapons are created with the intent to be used in war. People working in the arms industry, like the subject of the poem, expose themselves to the possibility that the creative energy of their mind and the work of their hands may make the world a more dangerous and less peaceful place. In the worst of circumstances, it is a distinct possibility that the weapons which they have assisted in creating and constructing will take the life of another person or, in the gravest of imaginable situations, vaporize a whole city and ignite a fuse which would end civilization. As the poem indicates, the worker is not in a position of great power, and neither formulates policy nor makes the decision to go to war, nor will the subject even necessarily pull a trigger or enter a launch command. The puzzling question, "How can I know whether I'm for or against?" is complicated. For or against what exactly? It could indicate an uncertainty about how the weapon being manufactured will be used, and who it could be used against. There is another implication as well; the morality of the act is hazy, not absolutely wrong but not necessarily right either. The next line makes a sort of pronouncement of the definite morality, that the worker's actions are not inherently sinful. Yet a problem remains in the mind of the speaker, to "turn screws, or weld together parts of destruction" may be allowing, helping, or resulting in another's destructive rampage or far more problematically injure others or endanger their safety. Small actions such as working in this arms factory do not directly harm others, but to continue one's job without thinking of the consequences is morally and ethically unacceptable.
Date of Award
© Drew Jones
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Jones, Drew, "Developing Destruction: the Arms Industry, Catholic Scientists, and Morality" (2009). Regis University Student Publications (comprehensive collection). 498.