Monday, March 28, 2011

Why be a pacifist?

"All the others. The others who spend their lives believing that we still believe. It is our task in the world to believe things no one else takes seriously. To abandon such beliefs completely, the human race would die. This is why we are here. A tiny minority. To embody old things, old beliefs. The devil, the angels, heaven, hell. If we did not pretend to believe these things, the world would collapse. [...] We are left to believe. Fools, children. Those who have abandoned belief must still believe in us. They are sure that they are right not to believe but they know belief must not fade completely. Hell is when no one believes. There must always be believers. Fools, idiots, those who hear voices, those who speak in tongues. We are your lunatics. We surrender our lives to make your nonbelief possible. You are sure that you are right but you don't want everyone to think as you do. There is no truth without fools. We are your fools, your madwomen, rising at dawn to pray, lighting candles, asking statues for good health, long life."

--Don DeLillo, White Noise

Why be a pacifist? When the world dismisses us as naive, ignorant, stupid, immature? Why be a pacifist, when our cry is dismissed, mocked, marginalized, and ignored? Why be a pacifist, when we turn to the liberal writers you've come to read for their insight and find some of them embracing military violence? Why be a pacifist, when there are evil people filling the world with brutality and blood and our beliefs feel utopian and ideals feel sheltered?

Because in this world, there needs to be somebody there to always preach an antiwar message to the others. There needs to be somebody there who will always be skeptical of war's aims, that will always fear war's consequences, that will always remind people of its costs. There needs to be people there to point out the horrors and atrocities of war. Somebody, even a very few, must be there to always reject the rationale for war, no matter how just or humanitarian it seems. There needs to be somebody that will reject war regardless of who calls for it. Somebody must be there to try and find other solutions (for nonviolence is not isolationist, not opposed to intervention but opposed to violent intervention). There must be somebody to claim that violence is always immoral.

If pacifists gain the power of decision making, then you can tell me how hopelessly naive and lost we are, how harmful or wrong-headed our beliefs are. But until then, while you are running things, we need to be here, rejecting violence and demanding peace.


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