Saturday, August 09, 2014

169.5 - Nonviolence and Me, Part 5

Nonviolence and Me, Part 5

[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 fifth.]

I can understand the lure of violence. I can. With violence, more than with nonviolence, you can feel that you're doing something. You can see a result of an action. For an example, we need look no further than Israel and the Palestinians. I'm quite sure that every time Hamas or some other militant group fires a rocket into southern Israel, it feels like they are striking a blow against the oppressor - even though after decades of violence against Israelis they are no closer to justice or a homeland of their own.

Israelis, for their part, no doubt feel that the incursions in the West Bank and the slaughter in Gaza are landing telling blows against the "threat" - even though after decades of violence against Palestinians they are no closer to security or peace.

Violence has clearly failed for both antagonists, yet neither seems willing or even able to realize it.

So it’s simply not true that there’s "no choice," even less that the only choice is between murderous violence and passivity. There is a choice: the choice of seeking to preserve life rather than destroy it, to think in terms of "we" rather than "us versus them," to control conflict rather than to "cry havoc," to, in short, struggle to achieve just ends while minimizing the suffering of opponents rather than maximizing the suffering of "enemies." That is the choice of nonviolence and nonviolent action. It is nonviolence, not violence, which eschews hate and fear and thereby offers our best - ultimately, our only - hope for long-term peace and justice.

Most, I fully realize, including most of you watching, find that hopelessly romantic. I find it eminently practical. Not only because, as Edmund Burke said, "a conscientious man should be cautious in how he deals in blood," but because, as a Life magazine editorial put it in the issue of August 20, 1945,
our sole safeguard against the very real danger of a reversion to barbarism is the kind of morality which compels the individual conscience, be the group right or wrong...There is no other way.
There is no other way.

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