Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Journey to Pacificism

An Eye for Eye will make the whole world blind.---Ghandi

A lot of people are angry with me about my decision to extreme pacifism. My husband, while not angry with me, doesn't agree with most of my pacifistic views. It isn't exactly easy to take up this banner anymore than it is easy to kill a person. It has not been an easy road so I'll begin with how I came to this kind of thought and what has made me become the "enemy" of many of my friends and family.

I have always said that I was a pacifist. Many people do. Nobody in their right mind would want to watch someone die. People pray for peace and even beauty pageant queens say that they would wish for world peace. But it's one thing to say that you believe in peace and it's an entirely different thing to live it. We argue with our own families enough to know that on a global scale peace is difficult.

I didn't realize how I truly felt about the subject all at once. It was a rather slow evolution that happened sometime after 9-11. I watched a bunch of men get into a plane and kill people. Like the world, I was in shock and stunned as I watch the images light up the screen on my television set. At first, I didn't believe it. How could somebody behave that way? How could a person, a sane person, decide to do something like this? As we learned more, we heard that they were Muslim and believe in a holy war. Muslims aren't the only ones who have killed people in the name of God. It was the Christians (or more specifically the Catholics) who started killing people in the name of God. We had the crusades and the inquisition and we tortured/killed people all in the name of God. This was insanity to me.

It was also around this time that I had made the decision not to believe in any form of abortion. I had first heard about it in highschool. The subject had never come up at home, but a classmate mentioned it to me. I'm all about the rights of people. I figured it was a woman's right, right? But I researched a paper on the subject and was opened up to the real reason behind women's right to choose. College came around, and I firmly believed in the rights of people's lives. This collided against the death penalty as well. I realized that I couldn't just protect the innocent unborn in the name of protecting life, if I didn't honor all life. I had to honor all life: those unborn and those who are breathing oxygen.

I continued to watch our government go to Afghanistan. I saw the images of a starving people. I heard the reports of the number of casualties of the military, but I heard nothing about the civilian Afghans. How many civilians died over there? Nobody to this day is sure. Then President Bush said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I believed him. But the reports and information was false. And then Darfur. We didn't lift a finger for them. Yet, our government in it's infinite wisdom decided that Iraq and Afghanistan were worth protecting but not a tiny African nation. I was upset. How can we pick and choose as a country who to fight for the rights of? How can we decide to defend one country and not another? It didn't make sense to me. Now I realize that it's all about the good ole American dollar. If we can't somehow make money off of it we don't care. But we're still told that it's all about helping helpless people. I was upset and disillusioned.

This made me a political pacifist. Those are people who don't believe in war for political reasons.

But it launched me to inspect my own heart and to read the Bible. Jesus heals the man's ear that was cut off by one of the disciples. Jesus says turn the other cheek. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. I realized that Jesus didn't have it easy. He was expected by the Jewish people to be a military leader, but he came saying that he was the Messiah and that they needed to be peaceful. No wonder, the Jewish people wanted him crucified. He was talking out of his gourd and to top it all off he was stirring up trouble. The Jews didn't want Rome breathing down their neck so they said let's get rid of this crazy guy and all his talk of being a Messiah for peace. So they handed him over to the authority and he died for peace. Peace within ourselves. Peace, a path from sin. Peace, a path from destruction.

People ask me, "If you're a pacifist, would mean that you don't defend yourself?" Yes, that's right. I'm not going to kill someone to save my own skin and I don't expect others to kill to save my own skin either. Then they ask, "Would you kill someone to defend your son?" No, but I would protect him. I've never asked anyone to die for me, which is why Jesus is so awesome. I never asked him to die, but he did it anyway. He did it for peace. Just like the Civil Right's Activists and those in India's struggle for Independence. They died for peace. They didn't kill anyone and neither did Jesus. If someone asked me to die for someone, I would do it. If they asked me to kill someone, I would not. And that's the big difference. That's the difference between the military and protecting someone's rights. People seem to equate the two. You don't have to kill someone to protect someone's rights. My right to vote was not handed to women who killed others. Those women took the long hard road and won that freedom by marching, protesting, petitioning, but not killing. To me it's a silly notion that my rights and freedoms are hinged on the military. What about diplomacy? What about civil disobedience? You don't need an army. I don't need an army.

I don't want an army. I don't support the men and women of the military. I feel sorry for them. They are taught how to kill people. That's mostly what they are trained to do. That's not all that they are trained to do, but that is their main purpose. The government spends more money on the military than on education or feeding the poor. We're not a "Christian" nation founded on "Christian" principles if we pick and choose who to "defend" and spend most of our resources on training people how to kill people.

My dad was in the military during Vietnam. He was a paper pusher. He told me that most people think that the higher ups decided who went to Vietnam. Nope. It was the paper pushers. The low guy on the totem pole. My dad had to decided who might die. He joined the military right out of highschool. He did it because his dad asked him what he wanted to do and my dad didn't know. So my grandpa took him to an army recruiter. That's what people did back then. You didn't have money or direction; you went into the army. When I was in high school the recruiters called me. My dad told me "Don't join the military. It isn't for you." And just like he told me not to become a nun because it wasn't my path, I didn't argue and obeyed. The military recruiter called back and I told him "my dad was in the military and he told me never to join." The recruiter hung up. It's like being a car salesmen. The recruiters sell you a bill of goods. They tell you you will get money and go places and defend the country. I'm not in the military. I went to college on a scholarship. I've gone many places and in my own way, I defend my country. I defend it with my life, but without killing anyone.

5 comments:

  1. deltaflute's husbandMay 30, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    In regards to why we help one country and not another, and the reason being the good ole American dollar, and I would say that's purposefully putting it in a negative light. One could just as easily say that, because we don't have infinite money, we go into the places where our money will help the most people. That can happen by 1) requiring very little military expendatures or 2) requiring large military expendatures but with a long term monetary benifit which in the end makes it cheap.

    While it may sound bad, poor countries with small populations that are being lead by cruel rulers with alot of firepower often are just not the best way to spend the limited money we have. Unless of course the conditions are really brutal such that the cost becomes moot.

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  2. I've been thinking about this lately as well, my room mates had this discussion a lot: who was pro-choice, who was in favor of the war, the death penalty, etc...

    and it's hard for me to say my stance. I hate the idea of taking another's life because that is not my place. life is dictated by God and God alone...but then there is the call for protection in some cases. You're definitely right about peace/pacifism in relation to Jesus and the Bible, but when human instinct kicks in in times of attack, a part of me sympathizes with "defense" killing.

    idk! I should really think more on this...thanks for the post, it's important!

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  3. I am a pacifist too. In my case I was raised Mennonite so it was always very clear to me that Jesus taught us to love our enemies and to turn the other cheek, not to take arms against our fellow man. When I was young I thought all Christians were pacifists. At the time of the Gulf war when I was 13, I was very disappointed to find out that my Christian friends were supportive of military action.

    In addition to being against war and violence, am also against abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment. It's called being completely pro-life.

    In some sense, although the people in the army are trained to use war and violence against others, I also see them as victims. Victims of propaganda, militarism, recruiters, etc. Have you ever seen the documentary "Anybody's Son Will Do"? It's about how they indoctrinate (brainwash) you during basic training in the U.S. Marines.

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  4. I've never seen the documentary, but I know from talking to military personnel that they "break you down to build you up" so that "you will act as one cohesive unit" there's no room for descension.

    I wrote this blog entry because I wanted people to understand that I'm not a pacifist because I'm trying to make people mad. I became this way because I feel that it's the Christian way like you were raised.

    Catholicism, which is what I am, teaches us that you can defend your country and it's boarders militarily if you have no other choices. Unfortunately, the United States is not doing that currently and the Vatican has said that being in Iraq and Afghanistan is wrong. So even if one believes that there is some merit to having a standing army, there are religious guidelines. A Catholic can say "this is not my war. I will not fight." And the Church will support them.

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  5. Oh, and thank you for sharing. I love speaking to the Mennonite community. They have great insights and are a very peaceful, loving, and forgiving people. I wish more Christians were like that.

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I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!