Monday, January 14, 2013

Pacifism...


pacifism  (ˈpæsɪˌfɪzəm) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]
 
— n
1.the belief that violence of any kind is unjustifiable and that one should not participate in war
2.the belief that international disputes can be settled by arbitration rather than war



Exodus 21: 23-25 states: “You are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”

In Matthew 5:38-42 Jesus states: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” … So which one is right?

Many astute observers might suggest Jesus' approach as folly since he only lived to be 33 yrs old at which point he was martyred as a penniless, non married, pacifist living under Roman rule. Not exactly living the American dream. One cannot help but find it contradictory to have a so called "Christian" nation such as many Americans tend to believe in...being at the front and center of producing armaments of war, including nuclear weapons, that can destroy the whole world in a few minutes.

My current thinking lies somewhere between the old and new testament views on Pacifism. It is quite obvious to most of us that the war mongering and constant escalation of the arms race this past century is not leading to very much peace in the world. The cycle of taking a life for a life is never ending and memories of death and suffering last for generations for those who have lived under the duress of war. We need only look now to the Middle East to see the futility of armed conflict in resolving anything for very long. Iraq continues to be a conflictive mess between various religious, political and financial factions  After billions spent there by the USA this past decade, I don't see a very peaceful present or future there.

After Billions more spent in Afghanistan, we are now talking about a defined pullout of American forces by 2014. Meanwhile, Al Quaeda and other sectarian factions continue to bomb and murder  in both Afghanistan and Pakistan almost at will. What is the root of all these conflicts?  Is it too much eye for an eye...or is it too much Pacifism on the part of majority powers?  Would "turning the other cheek" and making "sabers into plowshares" really revolutionize the world and bring about peace?

For me the answer is "yes and no".  Yes, the world needs to be much slower at excepting armed aggression and resolving conflicts by invasions and enforcement of agreements at the end of a gun...or nuclear missle. The major powers of this post WW2 era have been much too quick to demonstrate their wartime powers and invade their enemies...or simply other countries that don't share their values. The main aggressors in this have been the USA and Russia with other powers in the world lining up for or against whoever happens to be saber rattling at  the moment.

I am currently reading McCulloughs latest book on "Truman", and I have completed the story through the end of WW2 and the Potsdam agreements where Truman negotiated on behalf of the USA the post war division of Germany and re-bordering of many other countries. It is amazing to me that so relatively recent, three leaders from three countries could make decisions that carved up all of Western Civilization to boundaries and Statist fiefdoms that turned out to be the fodder for living the next 60+ years in fear during the cold war and nuclear arms race. "To the victors go the spoils of war"...and in this case it was no different.  The problem was, you had 3 very different cultures and differences in priorities coming together over a few weeks to sort out cultural and border problems that were centuries or even millenniums old.  With a stroke of a pen, these three leaders carved up Europe, Africa, Asia and staked out their collective turfs lording over Billions of people who had no voice in these agreements.  These agreements were also cause and effect for the future conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.

As I now have lived over 50 years under the effects of these agreements...I see the folly of superpower agreements...and it sheds new light on the "Arab Spring" and other revolutions we are now seeing throughout the globe.  Cause and effect of repression and Statism is now rearing its ugly head in all corners of the globe...and I think we are living on a powder keg of the next world wide revolution...largely caused by the advent of our information age. It is now harder to cover up truth...but it is also easier to disseminate false truths.  We now live in an age where wars are fought via media and perception.  Very little principle or "truth" is involved in today's governing bodies.  It will truly be up to individuals and the masses to demand change if change is indeed to come.  So, what demands do we the masses make of our government when it comes to war?

Many of us have heard the phrase "war is profitable".  The facts are that we super powers expanded our economies and empires on the backs of MILLIONS of dead soldiers and civilians. Many of the worlds largest enterprises were spawned by production of wartime vehicles, machinery and weapons.  Many conflicts of the past few decades have been quietly about control of oil and other energy resources.  The superpowers that be will hardly be held hostage by little countries that control the fuel and energy required to make more weapons or keep the motors of industrialization running.

In the middle of all these arms races and government overspending on "defense", the cause and effect of war is now taking a nasty turn for the worse. The USA is caught up in far away conflicts that are draining what little remains of our economic reserves. These conflicts are arguably not creating ANY benefit for Americans while benefiting greatly a few despot leaders and foreign economies. Our "eye for an eye" governments are now paying the price for their non-calculated risks and lack of basic human understanding.  A few bankers, industrialists and politicos behind the scenes are profiting handsomely from this pilfering of public coffers for personal egos and economic gains. If it takes Pacifism to stop this insanity...then long live Pacifism.

On the other hand...no sane person is going to believe that always turning the other cheek or giving away freely to whoever wants a handout is a policy for sustaining humanity either. It is quite obvious that the human "stain" of greed, corruption and power is always in the mix somewhere.  It continues to be rational and wise counsel to maintain a strong DEFENSE against evil doers.  The problem comes when many of those "evil doers" are on YOUR side or within your boundaries.

The greatest defenses of the future will and should be ECONOMIC strength and shared markets. I truly believe only some global order of trade and economic interdependence will solve the problems of Statist aggression and controlling tyranny. Yes...we need some world order.  Not WORLD ORDERS...but world ORDER.  To that end, the best chance for Pacifism to have a chance will be global justice and enforceable contracts of peace and economic sharing.  The world really does have enough to go around...but we must find a model where distribution is not controlled by borders or at the end of a gun barrel.  Until REAL "peace keeping"  forces outsize forces of aggression...there will be no peace or economic equality. Until there is more equality and justice on a global basis...Pacifism will not stand a chance as the model.

2 comments:

Dave McDonagh said...

"Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns--or dollars. Take your choice--there is no other--and your time is running out." Francisco d'Anconia from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

This is excerpt has been described as the antithesis of the conventional viewpoint that "money is the root of all evil." Money is a tool of exchange, which presupposes productive men and their activities. The production of goods and services is what makes man's life on earth possible. If human survival and prosperity is good, production is profoundly moral. Many in our present culture don’t really understand that productive effort is fundamentally an intellectual process. Too many in our society today view productive efforts as

One is that industrial production is profane and that materialistic concerns are immoral, because only purely dutiful activities directed at the human tribe are the only activities that are moral. Too many today don’t recognize the intellectual and spiritual component of leading a productive life and they really don’t understand the great virtue of his productivity. As you discuss the real “peace keeping force” that will outsize forces of aggression come only from productivity that results in ECONOMIC strength and shared markets.

edward said...

Can't argue with much of that Dave. The world just needs to stop putting "good money" behind bad causes. The investment and productivity in wars and weapons could have housed and fed the world's poor many times over. ECONOMIC productivity and educating the world to care for themselves is the best and only approach that will work in my view for bringing peace and equality to all.