Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why I am Not a Pacifist

While I like reading very very much I have recently discovered that I get a huge amount of enjoyment from reading things I don't paticularly understand. Sp most forgein affairs articles I read I have no opinion on because I want to know more about the subjects at hand. As a result I find myself occationally sitting down and looking up everything I don't understand only to find I need to look more things up. It is like the time I decided I wanted to write something substantial about the conflict in the middle east. It didn't work out well but my god what a learning experience.

Recently in Harpers I read an article on pacifism and it won't leave me alone. It won't sit still in my head, not at all. It moves around like some great snake slithering through my neural pathways knocking aside whatever else it is I try to think about. It demands my attention but I find that I am unsure what I wanted to say about it. Then it hit me. I am not a pacifist.

Isn't it weird that the word fist appears in the word pacifist?

Lets get to work shall we? The article I read was extrodinarly compelling. It is a discussion on what various pacifism movements were doing in WW2. The idea of pacifists in ww2 is a strange notion, and it is almost a dirty one. WW2 is considered the good war, the war that we use to justify all other wars. It is how we make everything we do okay when it comes to blowing up other countries. It is how we justified our war on communism. In school the facts of ww2 are drilled into our head class after class. We do a segment on it in World history, then another segment on in in American History, we talk about it in government, it is an inescapable monolithic superstructure which a shocking amount of our modern thought is based off of. The idea of a lively productive, intelegent pacisfism movement is almost as close to a hersay as we get here in a america. Yet there is was, and it had some very good points.

First and foremost pascifism, especially this brand of pascifism wasn't all about just shrugging our shoulders and letting the world burn. Their first and foremost policy was saving as many lives as possible. If there was a choice between saving 1 life or 1000 lives they would choose the 1000 each and every time. This meant that their primary concern was saving the jews in the concentration camps. To this end while we were off having war parades and fighting the japanese they were doing everything they could to save as many jews as possible. One of the things that drove me to a blind fury during the reading of this article was the discovery that we actually turned down visas of jews fleeing nazi germany. This is an inexcusably shitty thing to do. Fuck us.

Many people, not just the pacifists saw the treatment of jews by germany as the world's largest hostage situation and entering the war would cause Hitler to begin truely large scale liquidations. This is, interestingly enough, exactly what happened.

The point of all of this is that pacifism is not one of those beliefs where you can say, "I am a pacifist and we do nothing" it is a very active, involved, pragmatic belief system. When it is done right that is.

Me I am a viciously pragmatic person. It is just how I roll. I do what I need to when I need to and I don't worry so much about the things big or small. I love pragmatic philosophies. Things that aren't all one or the other but a proper balance between two opposing view points because that is where the truth alway lies. At its heart that is why I am not a pacifist.

There is another reason too. I have two great regrets in my life. One of them isn't punching my step mother in the face. It was late at night, she might of been drinking but I don't think so. She schedualed a trip to look at colleges I wasn't interested in going to during the same weekend my mom wanted to go on vacation with me. My step mom knew about this vacation months in advance and it wasn't like she couldn't just use another weekend there wasn't anything going on in the weeks before or after my mom's planned vacation. She was wrong and she was just being shitty. We'd been fighting about this for almost a week. Then one night more or less out of nowhere she tells me that my mom doesn't love me. She saw it in my face. I don't think she noticed my fist, and she immediatly backed down. We sling your momma jokes around cause they are funny an no one cares. However, that wasn't funny. That was a direct attack on me by someone fighting a loosing battle and who wanted to be right. To this day I regret not standing up and decking her in the face.

Its funny though. And this is worth stopping and considering. I didn't hit her. I didn't say anything in fact. She knew she fucked up and she backed down, threw some more insults my way as she slunk off. She realized she made a mistake but she didn't realize just how badly she had messed up. So the event that makes me realize that I am a pacifist is one where I live out pacifist ideals. I know for a fact that if I had hit her my life would of been worse. Much worse. The following years would not of gone like they did and I more than likely would not be sitting here right now. I know that the weird inverse survival instinct I had kicked in and realized that punching her put plans at stake that I had made. If she hadn't of left when she did none of that would of mattered and that person would be alive today, the one that stood up and took a swing, instead of this person. Maybe I would regret hitting her, but I doubt it.

The reason why we have taken this trip down memory lane is because that is the moment I realized that there are some people who you can't reason with, you can't escape, and who are dead set on taking away as many options as possible before they attack. There are people who do not respond to words and there are people who confuse violence with language, and sometimes these people end up in control of countries. And that's rough. So what can you do other than fight? The problem is when do we fight? How often do we fight? How should we fight?

There is another issue in the works as well and that is that antagonists know where pacifists stand. As a result they lack a valuable tool to work with and that is fear.

To be clear I don't think the world should be this way. I think that people should be free and unafraid from violence and fear. I don't think that I should have to use tools like fear, or anger, or threats of violence to get the things I need or to protect myself from those who would harm me. Ultimatly though this is not how the world works. And I am a pragmitist. This doesn't mean that pascifism is wrong or that it doesn't have things we could learn from. That isn't true at all. In fact that is specifically wrong. I think trying to use more peaceful methods more often is invaluable. I think that most wars are wrong but I also think that at the end of the day negotiating with hitler would of never worked. Not in the long run and not in the end.

Power may not of been trasphered and the whole thing might of collapsed like a house of cards, but as germany would of fallen apart from within I have no doubt they would of taken the jews with them meaning we would either have to go in or we would of been just as criminal.

The thing is that it is hard being not a pacifist. If I am not a pacifist I should enlist in the military, fight the good fight, be part of that which makes our foes both civilian and military tremble in fear. I don't believe in a whole lot of "if you aren't with us you are against us" crap. But in this case if I am not fighting to end all wars then I should damn well be a part of them. I'm not going to though cause I value my life to much and I value their lives as well. I wish they could all come home and we could find a different way to do all of this. I don't know how though. It would be nice if no one else had to doe though.

Strangely there is a lot of talk of cutting military spending. TO be honest I am not certain how "on board" with that I am. Again it is something I don't know enough about. I do know that with the money they do have we should be able to storm the pearly gates and overthrow the tyrant god. So what needs to happen right the fuck now is we need to reassess how we spend money on our military. Once we do that, and once we are getting more bang for our buck we can decide what to do next.

Kay time to go plan for role playing games.

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