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Pacifism, which literally refers to making peace (from pace and facere) is often mistakenly understood as passivity.





Non-violence is the law of the human race and is infinitely greater and superior to brute force.

Some dictionary definitions:
   Pacifism: the conviction that war should be abolished.
   Pacifism: opposition to war and violence as a means
   of settling disputes.

   Pacifism: complete renunciation of violence, even
   in self-defence, in settling disputes.

   Pacifism: advocacy of opposition to war through
   individual or collective action against militarism.

   Pacifism: the doctrine of opposition to all wars,
   including civil wars. Its most obvious feature is the
   personal commitment to non-participation in wars,
   except possibly in a non-combatant role. Pacifists
   also advocate efforts to maintain peace and support

Disasters make news. Television and newspapers show us the pictures: the destruction, the injured survivors, the dead. What we don't see, unless we're the victims of an earthquake or flood or volcano ourselves, is what life is like afterwards. We rarely get glimpses of survivors struggling to cope with grief and illness or disability, in makeshift conditions and facing years - maybe even a lifetime - of deprivation and loss.

There is another kind of disaster: war. Pictures from war zones show the same tragic scenes, the same dreadful aftermath. But war is worse. When war is going on, help for its victims may be slow in coming, or never arrive at all. The victims can themselves become pawns of war: deliberately driven from their homes, abused or tortured, their towns and villages bombed or burned. Large areas of land become uninhabitable, poisoned by dangerous chemicals and littered with unexploded weapons that go on killing for years to come. Some people - often children - are forced by governments or self-appointed leaders to join in the fighting and commit brutal acts and killings themselves. In war zones law and order disappear, and no-one is safe.

Unlike earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions, war is a disaster created entirely by people, against people. It is never an accident: making war is always somebody's decision. Nations spend vast amounts of money on training soldiers to fight and kill. They spend even more on devising and manufacturing weapons and machinery for fighting and killing. That is not the only expense. Huge sums are also needed for dealing with the damage when a war is officially over. ('Officially', because the effects of war continue long after the truce has been signed.)

From this evidence alone, it ought to be clear to everyone that there's little to be said for war. But little has been done to liberate the world from it. War still fascinates and excites some people, though it fills many others with revulsion and horror. Too many people - and too many of their leaders - still think that war is defensible, and that it's not actually wrong for people to learn how to kill each other in large numbers.

For all these reasons, and more, the invention of war is one of humankind's greatest blunders. It needs to be put right.

The bottom line of pacifism is simply this: human beings invented war, and human beings should make it obsolete. War, like a disease, can in time be eradicated; and that's what we should be working to achieve.

It means learning to overcome the conditioned belief that armed force is an acceptable way of dealing with disputes. It's a human weakness, not a strength, to solve problems with cruelty, brutality and murder. As a species we have already matured enough for modern societies to decide that wartime atrocities are crimes; people can be arrested for them, tried and punished. Now we should realise that war is itself a crime against humanity, and grow wise enough to solve our problems another way.

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. 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 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.



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