April 03, 2005

Pacifists and Peace-makers 

In response to this post, reader mamapajams wrote:

Well, it actually depends on the pacifist's point of view. In WWI there was
a Tennessee mountain man named Alvin York, a lay preacher who tried to get a draft deferment as a concientious objector, but changed his mind after talking to an officer who pointed out that sometimes evil has to be fought to save lives.

There is a difference between pacifist and peace-makers: pacifists reject the use of force as means to an end. It does not matter what the end is, and what amount of force will be applied, and against whom. For them, the use of any amount of force in any situation is axiomatically wrong. Exceptions can be made only for self-defense (and if your end is Communism...) but any pre-emptive use of force is strictly forbidden.

Peace-makers, on the other hand, are people of different persuasions who look at things in more pragmatic ways, and recognized that sometimes the use of force is necessary to neutralize violent or evil elements in order to build a better environment. Yes, peace will be born out of war if things are handled properly. There may be an element of unresolved contradiction at a philosophical level, but in practice that happens.

Peace-makers often find themselves in a very uncomfortable position: they have to do the dirty work, kill and be killed, witness unspeakable horrors and take the difficult road of pragmatism - finally, pay a heavy price so that other people will enjoy the peace, freedom and prosperity they brought. And soon many will forget the sacrifice of the peace-makers and will revile their memory, but the righteous men and women will know better than that, and honour the toil of the peace-makers. While the pacifists often will gain just a footnote in history, and be remembered as the ones who died first and accomplished nothing.


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