Nonviolence and Me, Part 3
[This week's show was one long discussion of my commitment to nonviolence. For ease of reading, I have broken it into five parts, this being the third.]
In fact, when do those looking to excuse the bloodshed for which they're responsible (or of which they tacitly or expressly approve) describe pacifism and nonviolence in terms other than "doctrinaire" or "knee-jerk" or other equally dismissive adjectives? When is the refusal to commit mass murder not brushed off as "hopelessly idealistic," always with the required sighs of regret, by those who imagine that both revolution and self-defense are marked by how many you kill rather than by how many you change - except, that is, for those times when a commitment to nonviolence is denounced as a tool of the ruling class?
And no, I need no lectures on the destructiveness of institutional violence, nor do I need to be reminded that it's easy for those of us not suffering under the yoke of an oppressor to urge the oppressed to foreswear murderous violence, especially when it is equally easy for us to embrace such violence as "necessary" or "liberating" when we do not have to live with blood and gore and shredded limbs and the shrieks of the wounded, writhing in pain, and the wails of the widows and the orphans and the cries of the parents holding their dead children while sitting among the smoking ruins of what had been their homes and fields.
That is the painful reality hidden behind that "necessity" of violence, a reality of tens - of hundreds - of millions around the world, past and present, abused by military power of one sort or another, almost if not always in the name of some supposed “higher purpose.” A reality of the real effect of real violence on real people.
As I said before, wars of one sort or another are now going on in who knows how many places, and in every one of them you can be damn sure that no one on any side has picked up a gun or dropped a bomb or fired a rocket or laid a mine or set a booby-trap without claiming to be on the side of the angels; no one has blown someone’s head off or burned a village to the ground or tortured a prisoner without claiming it’s in pursuit of “justice” or “freedom” or “self-defense” or the “glory of God” (or "Jesus" or “Allah” or whoever).
That’s the reality. Not musings about how you'd "prefer" nonviolence or about "self-defense" or, horribly, the "creative" aspects of violence. The reality, rather, of death, destruction, and despair in which everyone claims that they are the wounded innocents.