- Politics and Social Issues
Double Standard in Violence: a Pacifist's View
Story of a King and a Pirate
I call myself a pacifist, sometimes a humanist; but before some of the readers are done with this article I may be called a couple of other, less dignifying names. It will soon become evident why.
Let me tell you a little anecdote which may hint at the main point which I will try to make in this article. I happen to remember it from my high school Latin textbook some 58 years ago. The story is about the famous warrior Alexander the Great who at one time captured a pirate. So he asked the sea bandit: "With what right do you kill and rob at the seas?"
The pirate answered: "With the same right that you do, oh the Great One. But, because I do it with one ship I am called a pirate; and you are called an emperor because you do it with a whole fleet."
As the story ends, Alex liked the pirate's courageous and truthful answer so much that he released him.
Translated to these modern time mass killings the story is trying to tell us how killing is killing no matter whether it's done with a truckload of explosives or by a squadron of bombers.
But then, in one case it gets to be called a terroristic massacre of the innocent people, and in another it's called something so much milder to the ear---like "war casualties", or even milder---"collateral damage". How is that for sugar-coating?
In the eyes of a pacifist, innocent people dying is all that matters---and you can attach to it any more or less justified cause you wish, because I am not into the political background of any possible "need" for those people to die.
Now, not that I am planning to give politicians of the world or religious leaders a smooth ride out of my story, but it will continue to gravitate around the crucial question of anyone's right to take anyone else's life.
Some Lives More Valuable Than Others
Let us take a good look at the discrepancy between the way that justice system is viewing lives of convicted murderers and the way that politicians are viewing lives of those "casualties of war". If you don't see a double standard right there, I may have a problem presenting it a better way.
Out of certain moral considerations of humanness we don't lower ourselves to the level of murderer which would be based on "eye for an eye" principle; and that's why in many states and countries capital punishment is not practiced.
With that same humanness in mind we may spend incredible amounts of money and effort to save a life in a hospital---even bringing additional experts from abroad to assist in choice of treatment.
So, there we go acting in accordance with our dignity of the most intelligent and advanced species on this planet---far from any animalistic tendencies, otherwise present in our nature, but replaced by altruism, love, care, and compassion.
But then, look who feels called upon to dictate a discount on the value of human lives---those who should be our highest examples to be followed, our leaders, political and/or religious.
With all their education, ironically mostly in law, and with their even more knowledgeable advisors, they are resorting to the most primitive methods borrowed from the infamous butchers of the history.
I understand that greed, ambition for power, and fight for resources of survival dictate methods which are not even meant to look like a fair-game, but why can't they do it without killing masses of people who never had a violent agenda in their life to deserve it?
Really folks, let's think about it---it's the 21st century, times of high technology, advancements in all kinds of improvements in the quality of life, times of admirable cultural achievements.
I simply can't fathom that governments of the world, and especially religious establishments all bragging about their high sense of a "divine love"---don't feel horribly ashamed in front of their followers for using mass-killing as their strategies of attaining power.
It's About Lost Lives---Not Politics
Again, this article is not about politics, because I don't know the first thing about that "real" political game going on; just as you don't know it.
Many folks may feel that they do after listening to their favorite political "alma mater"--- the news media. But those don't know anything either, while just being smart in their craft of selling their selective half-lies that they pick from interviews and coat them with their own political favoritism and speculations.
Since these days it doesn't apparently matter how reliable a source of information may be in order to become believable, it won't matter much now that I can't remember the name of that "senior political analyst close to the top" who once said: "Attack on Iraq was planned way before 9/11."
Did I believe it? Of course not. Did I doubt it? Of course not. You see, I am not much into believing or doubting, I like knowing, because I am a pragmatic dude. The whole Middle East crusade could have been a game of some war profiteers, which would not make it significant to me; I just saw a lot of killing that could have been avoided with some politicians sticking to those ideas of their Sunday sermons which they faithfully attended.
People Don't Hate Until Told To Hate
Our bodies being a part of animalistic nature could be forgiven for killing for food, for stealing milk from cows, honey from bees, and eggs from chickens; but then we shouldn't get carried away with that arrogant survival instinct to also kill people just because they are somehow "in our way."
Really, folks, how many more millennia do we need to wake up from this historical nightmare and see how all violence starts with us? Do you ever stop to think why those smart leaders of the world are so impotent to establish a harmony on this planet?
What makes a mockery of all this is the fact that nations don't hate each other, and neither do religions. Do you really think that Americans and Vietnamese hated each other and "that's why" they got into war? Do you really think that it was German people who hated the rest of the world so much that they wanted to bomb the crap out of everybody?
And, do you really think that there is no way that Jews and Arabs could coexist peacefully?
Call me naïve if you wish, but I don't think any nation or religion starts hating anybody all until their leaders---political or religious---instigate that hate.
Sometimes during my morning walks I stop by fence of an elementary school at the time of kids' recess. And I don't know whether to smile with admiration at that lively bunch of all colors and ethnicities playfully running around, or should I shed a little tear of sadness over the screwed up world of grownups.
I may stay there and watch for a while, deeply impressed by that scene of innocence, and thinking of all kinds of indoctrinations that will make those kids learn to hate.
Another picture comes to mind from of a TV documentary, with a lion cub playing with a piglet---neither of them knowing that one day they will not be playmates anymore, because one will become food of another.
Well, so here I come to the end of my story. It was not meant to convert a military minded reader into a pacifist; but maybe at least it could give us a hint how peace has to start from our own finding a peace within ourselves, before we can be at peace with others.