“From pacifist to terrorist, each person condemns violence–and then adds one cherished case in which it may be justified.” –Gloria Steinem
I’m a bit of a pacifist. I can admit it. I say I’m a bit of a pacifist because I still deal with really violent thoughts–with almost no provocation–most of the time. The other day my family and I were sitting in a restaurant, enjoying our respective meals, when this man and his mother walk in (at least I hope it was his mother, she could’ve been a Cougar who was misinformed about the proper shelf-life of said behavior, but I digress, the “mother” wasn’t the issue, the man was). He was a ruddy and rotund man with the fashion sense of an irony-impaired Bruce Vilanch. But–beyond that–he walked with a swagger…the kind of swagger you might expect from a hunter who just dropped an animal large enough to feed his whole community. This guy’s accomplishment was finding a well-promoted dining establishment. He was so fucking proud of himself for conquering a task that could be achieved by a 5 year old with a smart phone.
I wanted to punch him as soon as I saw him…I mean really punch him…like when you think about punching someone, but instead of a solid punch after which the guy (or lady; I’m not sexist…ladies?) falls to the floor and stays there, this punch (the hypothetical punch I’m imagining in this moment) goes right through his skull…all the way through…entry wound…exit wound…the whole bit…and he’s just suspended there looking at me like: “What the fuck just happened?” And I’m looking at him like: “I just happened…I’m what the fuck just happened…that’s me.” Then I pull my fist back through and he just drops to the floor…and maybe seizes-out…I don’t know…the details get cloudy at this point…but in the end he’s lying on the restaurant floor with his brains marinating in a grayish-pink puddle. I don’t know where that thinking originates…I don’t know why I was thinking that…but I do recognize, if I’m being honest, it is…decidedly…un-pacifistic…
Pacifism is not a popular life-choice…it makes people uncomfortable. I have a friend who calls pacifism boring. He’s, of course, right (they are rare moments, when Matt is wrong)…it is kind of boring…there is no conflict in pacifism…there is no hero’s journey in pacifism. Nobody wants the Incredible Hulk to come out and give a quick lesson on resolving conflict with our words. I guess the pacifist version of the Hulk is a calm and peaceful Bruce Banner, so yeah, case in point: boring!
The argument that I can’t understand–to be honest it makes me want to skull a body–is that pacifism is a utopian construct that’ll never work. It is as popular as it is intellectually lazy, the sentiment: “Oh yeah let’s all get together and talk through our issues and get to understand one another and hug and it’ll all be okay.” I’m not advocating unfettered hugging, but the rest is exactly what pacifists are asking we try.
All we are saying is give peace a chance (I borrowed that from somebody…either Jesus, or somebody bigger?). Give it a chance. Is that unreasonable? Let’s get down to it. We’ve tried the other way for thousands of years now…over and over again shedding blood over the most insignificant issues wrapped in the most manufactured minutia…so committed to the concept of force are we that in the U.S. we spent around half of a century in an arms race supposedly meant to aid in the peace process between two super-powers that actually nearly bankrupted one and left the other with such a hunger for war that it now goes out and manufactures reasons to pick a fight. “Iraq aided Al Qaeda…no we meant they had terrible weapons with which they meant to harm the west…no what we meant was Saddam was an asshole.”
It’s true Saddam was an asshole, but who isn’t?
I can’t wait for the day when a President declares “open-season” on all of the asshole leaders in the world…then he (or she…ladies?) is sitting there, proud of the announcement they just made when, all of the sudden, a well-armed murder of troops storm the oval office and the president is like: “What the fuck guys, I didn’t mean all the assholes…I meant most of them.” Then she (or he…fellas?) is carted off and hung…
Whatever–the point is: we’ve tried the non-pacifist way…we know it doesn’t work…it never has.
So why not give the other way a shot? If it doesn’t work you guys can tell us: “We told you so!”
You guys love that shit…