Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Hope the Prince of Peace is Coming Soon

Today, in my wanderings, I have found my way to the topic of non-violence. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to avoid all violent confrontation, or to violently lash out against oppression, that is the question.

I do believe that violent reaction against systems of oppression creates violent reactions from systems of oppression, locking us into a cycle of violence that is both undesirable and impossible to break with violence, but at the same time, I have difficulty whole-heartedly embracing the philosophical system of pacifism. While I don't believe in pre-meditated killing in any form, even that of capital punishment, I do believe that sometimes violent and even regrettably lethal force is necessary in the defense of things that should not simply be allowed to die. The funny thing is, I don't believe in the use of violence in self-defense, but I would be willing to kill if necessary for the people that I love, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. The following are some quotes on the subjects of violence and pacifism that I thought might provide some interesting food for thought.

"It's not the bullet with my name on it that worries me. It's the one that says 'To whom it may concern.'" ~Anonymous Belfast resident, quoted in London Guardian, 1991

"Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived." ~Abraham Lincoln

"It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence." ~Gandhi

"He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster." ~Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” ~George Orwell

“Violence isn't always evil. What's evil is the infatuation with violence.” ~Jim Morrison

“The pacifist is as surely a traitor to his country and to humanity as is the most brutal wrongdoer.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

For now, I leave the question in the hands of you, dear reader: what are your feelings about pacifism and the nature of violence in general?

“The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am actually reminded of a quote, though I don't remember who said it exactly. It was something to the extent "If one were to attack the other, but the other didn't attack. Where is the violence? If we have wars, and one country attacks another and yet that other country doesn't respond, how can we call it a war?" In other words, if we were to avoid violence at all costs, what would that do to violence? Would it stop or change?
I would probably say no, because I think of things like the holocaust. Violence not meant for any other purpose than destruction of a people. And in such cases necessary measures need to be taken against them. This is why I like the idea of Aikido. "Do not resist violence, and do not respond in kind. Rather move the violence to where it would do little to no harm." Respond to violence, defend yourself, but not violently.