Flirting with Pacifism

I am almost a pacifist.

I am tempted to say that I will soon be a pacifist, but I’m not quite certain about that yet.  Before I become a pacifist, however, I need to read C.S. Lewis’ essay, “Why I Am Not a Pacifist”, again (it’s been a few years) and make sure that I can articulate my own position against the most articulate person who ever lived (maybe not quite, but damn close).

Watching the myth of redemptive violence play out in Gaza these past few weeks has only pushed me further to the edge.  If I had the time, I would take a look–surely someone has done this already and published it for me–into the wars of the world and see if I could find the cycle of revenge in each one of them, how the end of one war only precipitated the beginning of another.  An easy example is World Wars I and II.

The heart of the question, I think, is whether or not violence on behalf of good (if such a thing is possible) is ever ultimately effective (and justifiable) in response to evil.  World War II is an easy example: you could argue, and argue quite convincingly, that the Holocaust would never have happened, and Naziism never defeated, if it hadn’t been for violent intervention by Allied Forces.  In fact, you could even argue that had Britain engaged Germany sooner, the Holocaust may have been prevented.  If I can answer negatively–that violence is never justified, even in these cases—then that will pretty much seal the deal.  Hopefully I’ll work through some Lewis and Hauerwas and come to some more conclusions on this.

What is certain is that pacifism could never, for me, mean passivism.  “Blessed are the peacemakers“–not the peacekeepers–“for they will be called children of God.”  The act of peacemaking reshapes oneself into the divine image.  What is needed is active pacifism–I almost want to say, a violent pacifism–which isn’t for limp-wristed hippies or weaklings but an active decision to live peacably with others and trust God to bring evil to justice.  Hmmm…

A little inspiration.

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One Response to Flirting with Pacifism

  1. ben adam says:

    Brother, if you aren’t a pacifist by the end of the year, I will be severely disappointed. You need to read Hauerwas, Wink, Yoder, Augsburger, Arnold, Claiborne, Berry, Merton, and any other assortment of theologian/layman. Plus, you should have a serious talk with Nienhuis who is the absolute guru concerning pacifism, and you should probably read my quotes section and my about me on my facebook. Any one of those sources will help. Then you need to watch Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, Band of Brothers, and any other ridiculously bloody movie, and I assure you, you will come out asking yourself, “Is this what G_d intended us to do after He died on the cross?” Peace!

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