03 April 2007

Paficism: 第一

True pacifism is not unrealistic submission to an evil power. ...It is rather a courageous confrontation with evil by the power of love, in the faith that it is better to be the recipient of violence than the inflicter of it, since the latter only multiplies the existence of violence and bitterness in the universe, while the former may develop a sense of shame in the opponent, and thereby bring about a transformation and change of heart.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
I figured that we might ease into this discussion by first trying to find some common ground, gather comments from interested/ interesting parties and then move on from there. I just don't think starting the conversation off with a statement like, "The Iraq war is unjust" would do anyone any good. We'll get to that later. First, I want to talk about Pacifism on a personal level.My interest in pacifism began with an article by Stanley Hauerwaus, the Duke theologian, about September 11th. I had been, in college, an ardent supporter of Just War theory as that was what Christians were supposed to believe in the circle of Christians of which I was a part. At the time I began to think about Pacifism, I felt it was a true reflection of my Christian faith at the time — a chance to take seriously the message of Jesus.

The Christian faith of my college years has evolved into something much more sketchy, but my strong belief in the importance of Pacifism has stuck with me.

I want to make perfectly clearly that first, I think arguing about Pacifism on a personal level is largely a theoretical endeavor. I have never been in a real fight, and I have not been acted on violently. Moreover, when individuals are acted upon violently, the chance to respond violently is often limited. So for me to say I would not hit someone if they hit me is nice to say in theory, but I doubt I will ever have to act on my belief. Conversely, the Just War folks that like to say they would happily kill a man with their bare hands if they did violence to their family will likely never have to deal with that situation.

That doesn't mean, however, that promoting or preaching a solid Pacifist ethic is not powerful or important for individuals because I think Pacifist thinking promotes love over revenge. This sort of thinking is especially important in our world today.

The first argument I want to make for individual Pacifism is quite simple. Individuals should not be responsible for imposing justice (when violence is involved or otherwise) on those that have acted unfairly or violently towards them or others. That is to say, humans tend to over-react when people do things to us that we don't like. Police and the rule of law work to mediate individuals because we do a crappy job on our own. If we gave guns to everyone and said, Kill who you think deserves to die, we'd have a bit of a mess.

I understand that most people would probably not argue for that kind of anarchy, but I have the feeling most Just War folks would argue that in a situation where violence is being done to you or your family, you are morally obligated to intervene using any means necessary to stop the violence, even if that means being violent toward the person that initiated the violence. I think this leads to a lot of problems of justice, and although people don't like to talk about the rights of criminal, I think it is important to make sure that everyone in our society is dealt with justly, even if they have committed a violent crime.

Self-defense or intervention is, of course, the big question. my roommate in Fukuoka and I talked about this once, and we really got to the crux of the problem: what constitutes violence against the attacker and what is acceptable intervention for the Pacifist? Clearly, this is murky ground for both the Pacifist and the Just War proponent. What action is acceptable to stop violence?

As a Pacifist, I would say that any intervention that results in violence being done towards the attacker or initiator would be unacceptable. One might put oneself in the way of the attacker with the intention to have any violence intended for the victim be inflicted on oneself. How this might play out in a particular situation would have to be dealt with case by case. But I think the same problem exists for the just war theorist. If you are raining down punches on someone who has tried to steal a purse from an old woman, there has to be a line where three punches is okay, but not four (or wherever you want to draw that line).

That will be my first question: Where should you draw the line?