Pacifism: It’s the only way, people!
Oops, I’ve got a little sidetracked sorting out my paperwork – it took 3 days but I’m about 4 reams lighter!
I’ve always been anti-war – I did grow up in the eighties, after all, where Reagan’s political posturing kept us on the precipice of mutually assured nuclear destruction – thank goodness for CND! Oh the nightmares I used to have.
Hand in hand with my anti:- war sentiments go anti – violence; however, in the interests of full disclosure, I was not always the calm and collected person I’ve been for the last … many years. In my youth, I had the unhelpful combination of a ‘smart mouth’ and volatility. There was a reason for this which I’ve been thinking of sharing with you, reader. Anyway… this has led to the odd bout of fisticuffs – but none for about 20 years. It does horrify me, though, to think about past misbehaviour – even when it’s been in my defence or the defence of others.
My own personal brand of pacifism is not perfect. I had this conversation with some of the guys in the library. They believed that I could not be a pacifist because I would defend myself and others from physical attack if there as no other option. “Then surely”, I hear you say, “that position must extend to fighting an invading, oppressive nation, i.e. going to war?” Good point. I’d love to counter that with a reasoned intellectual argument, but I can’t; all philosophical sides to the argument have weaknesses. I am not an ‘absolute pacifist’ (neither was Gandhi). Decisions have to be based on individual circumstances with full and accurate evidence – and when will we get that from a government’s propaganda machine?
I have one foot in pacifism on moral grounds and the other – also in pacifism – on pragmatic grounds. Morals and ethics speak for themselves – I believe in every sentient being’s the right to enjoy their lives in their entirety, free from violence and fear (see also my next blog). Pragmatic grounds are the costs of war or interpersonal violence to an individual or a wide more corrosive element to the beliefs of society (not to mention the financial cost of war).
My belief in pacifism was made more concrete after reading a biography of Gandhi: I started to understand how much more power full nonviolent resistance was and what it could achieve.
The less enlightened and propogandists perpetuate the myth of pacifists being cowards – not Gandhi and his followers – many of whom gave their lives to free India from the British Empire. Here’s what one anti – pacifist had to say:
“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.
That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being
being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism
and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in
Sounds familiar? No, it wasn’t a British Prime Minister or an American President – although, it could be, they use the same rhetoric – it was (the Nazi) Hermann Goring at the Nuremberg Trials.
I’ll end this with 2 Gandhi quotations:
“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless,
whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism
or the holy name of liberty or democracy.”
So what do we do?
“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”
Be happy, be safe and be kind.
Graham Coutts, 20th May 2020