WHAT IS PACIFISM?

 
 
 STUDY AND TEACHING
 RESOURCES
   
     

 

 
  

 

 

 

 
   

CONTENTS
- why is war wrong?
- aggression and revenge
- the right to live
- the web of war
- changing the way we think
- pacifism in action
- faq's
- further reading

 

AGGRESSION AND REVENGE

Some people want to believe that human beings are naturally aggressive, and that war is a natural way of showing it. Regrettable, they say, 'but it's in our genes'. In fact, scientists have proved that aggression is not inborn, and said so publicly in 1989. [see Seville Statement on Violence] Of course many people do feel and show aggressiveness. But this is the result of circumstances, not biology. There is always a traceable reason for aggressive behaviour. (It often has to do with social and economic problems which war may have created and defence budgets could be diverted to resolve.) But there is no good reason, innate or acquired, for human beings to plan aggression on a large scale, teach people how to put it into practice, and encourage them to carry it to lethal extremes.

The road to devastation begins long before war does: it begins when nations and groups equip themselves for war. Preparing for war ensures that it will happen (though it may not be the war that's being prepared for). You might as well try preventing a forest fire by pouring petrol over the trees and then standing by with a box of matches.

In fact aggression and revenge are deliberately incited to fuel war. Every war is backed by political and military propaganda which fires anger, hatred and impulses to attack and retaliate. This serves at least two purposes: it allows armies to believe in what they're doing, and seduces people into supporting their leaders' war policies.

But however solid the reasons for aggression or revenge may seem, war is never the only way to handle them. It is certainly the worst and most dangerous way; and it isn't even practical.

Aggression and violence set up a sequence of violent attacks and reprisals that, like a forest fire, is easy to start but very hard to stop, and leaves destruction and death wherever it occurs.

 
 

   








 


Put it another way: if you are aggressive and vengeful, then you bring aggression and revenge on yourself. As the pacifist civil rights activist Martin Luther King [see MLK] said, an-eye-for-an-eye leaves everyone blind. In the grisly competitiveness of war it's more often two-eyes-for-an-eye.

People who actually want war often put their case for it by saying it's a form of defence, needed to protect a community, a land, an idea. But this sort of defence is really a form of aggression, a threat permanently ready to be carried out. In fact there's compelling evidence to show that armed defence is no kind of protection. The use of force doesn't solve problems; it may alter them, but it inevitably creates new ones at the same time. It also breeds further violence. The causes of human conflict are too subtle and complex to be dealt with by brute force, which is no more than a crude short-term response that sets up a load of long-term trouble. CONTINUE

 
     

 PART THERE: THE RIGHT TO LIVE  

         
 

 

 

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