More Reflections on Peace
I've thought a lot about the world in regards to the current conflicts
since I wrote that article encouraging
reflection and restraint in our response to the attacks in New York City. I
mean, for all our religious beliefs in this country, all our tenets of
"turn the other cheek", all our teachings of "nonaggression" and our
preaching of abiding in "faith, hope, and charity," seems to mean very little.
I'm a realist, and I realized that most Americans wouldn't listen to talk
of forgiveness, however, I was very surprised to see many of my friends,
who I would label socially liberal and normally peaceful, start attaching
flags to their cars in patriotic fervor. I often heard, "we can't just do
I suppose that I'm a "pacifist," but while I hate most labels, I really
hate that one, as it implies weakness… "you're not strong enough
to fight, so you're a pacifist." However, in general, I feel that it
requires more strength not to react violently to violence.
Usually, I would advocate peace first, and use warfare only when there are
no other choices. But in hindsight, it is difficult to hold to a "peaceful"
stand in regards to the wars of aggression and oppression. For instance,
in Afghanistan. I mean, the extreme views of the Taliban against women merit
such a response, right?
But overthrowing a government won't change the minds of the people and the
forces that established that government.
The German majority "elected" Hitler and permitted him to take charge. I like
to think that if the majority of Germans of that time could have seen the
end results of that election, they would not have chosen differently.
Let's hope that is what will happened in Afghanistan, and that the people in
that country will want to set up a better government.
But that is just trying to unring the bell in Afghanistan.
What I'm wondering now is about some of our current policies, as it seems
that the war will just be prolonged (see my thinking as to why I feel this way).
The other day on my way to work, I passed a number of people on a bridge
holding the words promoting peace. However, many of the people were wearing
masks with grotesque features. While they were clearly trying to get
attention, I firmly believe that the medium is the message.
A few days before my wife and I were downtown with our baby, and down the
street came a small peace demonstration. However, their drumming and
chanting scared my wife. It seems strange that this is the case, but messages
of peace cannot appear militant.
It seems to me that Ghandi's "passive resistance" could be understood as a
peaceful response to social change. But how does one protest against aggressive
foreign policies when one's message is peace?
Tell others about this article: