Two songs, written by Beatles member, John Lennon, beautifully express the inner pining of humanity to live in harmony and peace with each other: Give Peace a Chance and Imagine. A bumper sticker slogan (COEXIST) spelled out with religious and ideological symbols from across the world. And more recently, there’s a video online, reportedly showing a retired CIA agent essentially saying that if everyone would simple take the time to listen to each other across our cultural divides, we might be able to end much of the world’s conflicts.
With every fiber of my being, I believe that the majority of humanity would prefer to live their lives without meddling in others affairs so long as they were not meddled with in kind. In short, most prefer peace to war.
Unfortunately, the reality of life, indeed of the full history of mankind, is that there are those who, regardless of their reasons, simply prefer to force themselves upon others. That disposition may be simple meddling, to bullying, to prescribing legislation to either take from some or gain behavioral compliance from others, to those who bent on conquest.
In each and every case, it is utterly delusional to believe that acquiescence, that allowing the aggressor to intimidate, to do what they desire, will somehow create shame within their hearts and minds. History is so full of lessons it is breath-taking when such concessions are made. The results, with extraordinary exception, are always the same: the loss of some measure of your personal freedom, if not all. And in some instances it will cost you your life.
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas makes a wonderful children’s story, but being kind to those who would do evil upon others seldom enlarges their heart as it did with the Grinch. It emboldens them to do more harm, usually with more zeal, swelling them with the perverse thrill of power, and are emboldened by an expression of what they perceive as timidity.
Multiple sources (papers, lectures, blogs and the like) exist on how to prevent war or international conflicts. Nearly all say the same basic things: organize, protest, persuade others to join your efforts, make signs, petitions, etc., etc., etc.. They all essentially say that if you convince enough people to not participate you can persuade your national leaders to not engage in a conflict. Well and good. But what then does one do if the other party decides your peaceful efforts don’t matter and initiate conflict in the face of those good intentions.
Having not prepared your self or helped one’s nation be sufficiently prepared to defend itself, would it not be true those efforts now put all in jeopardy? I’m not suggestion aggression, but how many idiots start a bar fight with the biggest man in the room?
If conflict is universally resolvable, why do nearly half of all marriages end in divorce? Some will say this is ” comparing apples and oranges.” On the surface it may be, but conflict is conflict regardless of scale. If we have not been able to eliminate the smallest type of conflicts, what makes us think we can do so with the much larger and often more complex relationships of the international communities?
Like it or not, when an individual or a group of individuals have made up their mind on a course of action, and further broadcast their intentions to execute that course of action that involves violence against you and/or those you know, you have a simple choice: ignore it and pretend they don’t mean what they say; or you can take measures to defend your self and those around you. Further, if that expressed intent is to kill, then the choice is very clear: be willing to be slaughtered like livestock or be willing to use deadly force as a means of defending – be willing to kill those who would kill without regard to your preference of peaceful coexistence.
The entire world has been put on notice by a collection of groups, that while each may be vying for supremacy, agree on one common goal: the subjugation of all humanity to their world view. Subjugation is the only appropriate word, as they do not seek to persuade, they instead are bent on violent imposition of their ideology with religious zealotry without bounds.
They have proudly displayed for the world to see some of the most despicable, heinous, vile, wretched and inhuman methods of indiscriminate killing imaginable. And yet some desperately cling to the idea that these groups and individuals who align with themselves with these groups can be somehow dissuaded from their intentions by kindly conversation and gentile, child-like, open hands.
C.S. Lewis was a pacifist for much of his life. During the time of his writing his science fiction trilogy, Hitler and Nazi Germany were on the rise. Confronted with the growing evil, Lewis wrestled with his pacifism. The resolution of his thoughts on conflict come to a head in the second book, Perelandra.
This may seem irrelevant, but it bears upon the conversation. The basis of Law (oft called Natural Law) is each and every individual’s right to their life and property, and their right to freely enjoy their life and property. The right of defense, the preventing of another from using some form of force to take from you what is yours, is inherently part of your unalienable rights of Life, Liberty and Property. These three basic rights are inextricably intertwined such that to lose one is the loss of all three.
When an individual or group of individuals use force to take from one individual or group of individuals, they forfeit by their own action the very thing they seek to take from others. Why? Because they violate the very essence of what is lawful in the interactions of all humans. How does the blatant disregard, disrespect and/or destruction of the unalienable rights of one individual or group of individuals, allow for the enjoyment of the very same by the aggressive instigator who insists on acting this way?
We face an uncomfortable choice whether we are interested or not, whether we prefer to address it or not, whether we want it or not. We will take whatever actions are necessary to defend ourselves as is our right to enjoy peaceful lives?
A group of individuals believe whole heartedly that those who do not give assent to their views and comply with its edicts, are not fit to live. That ideology, whether we like it or not, declares that those who do not submit to their edicts and dogma are unworthy of life itself.
Are you okay with the consequences of acquiescing to their demands? If so, even then there is no guarantee your pacifism will satisfy them. They’ve already shown they will behead, burn alive, maim, rape and enslave to coerce compliance from others.
Deliberately ignoring the obvious about what is in front of our own eyes, is foolish at best. This fight is not new. Our nation had to confront it in our earliest years. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams attempted to secure peaceful mercantile shipping and to avoid conflict with the Barbary Pirates, who were Muslims. Jefferson and Franklin’s letter to then Secretary of Foreign Affairs, John Jay, is an enlightening read as to the justifications stated for the actions of the Musselmen attacking foreign ships:
“We [Adams & Jefferson] took the liberty to make some enquiries concerning the ground of their pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. [Note they clarify “nations who have done them [i.e. Muslim Barbary States] no injury”]
The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their prophet [i.e. Mohammed]; that it was written in their Koran; that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners; that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Mussulman [Muslims] who was slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.
That it was a law that the first who boarded an enemy’s vessel should have one slave more than his share with the rest, which operated as an incentive to the most desperate valor and enterprize; that it was the practice of their corsairs to bear down upon a ship, for each sailor to take a dagger in each hand and another in his mouth, and leap on board, which so terrified their enemies that very few ever stood against them; that he verily believed the devil assisted his countrymen, for they were almost always successful.”
If you value your life and your personal freedom, as well as those you love and know, the choice should be obvious. It is so, so unfortunate, that many are under the delusion that this can be overcome with the extension of flowers and calls for peace. What evidence in the teachings, propaganda, the leadership, the actions taken to date would give anyone any confidence those following the edicts of their ideology have any interest other than outright and total subjugation of the world to that ideology? Neville Chamberlain desperately wanted peace and ignored what was clearly in front of him. He even had a signed agreement that peace would continue. Did it stop Hitler then? In light of Jefferson’s and Adam’s letter in 1786, if one is honest, it would appear this is precisely what is happening now will only continue, perhaps with increased incidence and intensity, unless addressed head on.
It is a sad fact that regardless of one’s desire to live a calm, quiet life, the actions of another can come without request or having being sought out. Sometimes trouble just comes your way.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
– Romans 12:18 (NIV)
“You may not want war, but war wants you.”
– Bolshevik Revolutionary, Leon Trotsky (though contested)