Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Give Peace A Chance?

"All we are saying is give peace a chance" - John Lennon

Peace is a good thing and I definitely prefer peace over war. But I also recognize that there is evil in the world and people with evil intent. Edmund Burke once said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Doing nothing, turning the other cheek, is a good policy up to a point. It is preferable to walk away from words spoken in anger, from a rash act or deed. History is full of stories of families and cultures trapped in a cycle of endless revenge (Romeo & Juliet, Hatfield & Macoys) for past hurts.

But there are other times when doing nothing is cowardice; a refusal to resist evil; or a selfishness that my life is worth more than others. I realize that cowardice is a harsh word and sometimes mistakenly applied. In the Kenny Rogers song, Coward of the County, a man tries to live by his father's dying wish, "Promise me, son, not to do the things I've done. Walk away from trouble if you can." Townsfolk consider this cowardice and fail to recognize the principles and moral courage involved. "Something always told me they were reading Tommy wrong." Tommy ignores insults to himself but when the bullies rape his girl friend he takes action. "Sometimes you gotta fight when you're a man."

A few years back I attended a class called "The Way of the Peaceful Warrior". He taught that fighting was always to be avoided when possible but sometimes was necessary. It was better to be a pacifist by choice and not because of weakness. He gave an example that anyone could be a fighter under the right circumstances. He asked the women in the audience, if attacked by a really large man (a professional boxer), would you fight back? Most said no, they were too weak. Then he asked, if this boxer attacked your teenage daughter who was with you, what would you do? The same women said, "Kill him!"

Bottom Line

I believe it is noble and virtuous to turn the other cheek when harm is done to you. But I believe it is wrong to do nothing when harm is done to others. While I admire the strength of belief of the Amish and Quakers to total Pacifism, peace won't stop evil.

In the recent novel, Ender's Exile. Orson Scott Card wrote, "Pacifism only works when the attacker won't murder the innocent." That is, peaceful resistance works only when the attacker has moral principles. When the attacker harms the innocent and oppresses the weak, that is evil in action and must be stopped by "good men."

I wanted to end the blog there but one more point is needed. Some people see Bush or the US as "evil" for trying to fight terrorists. War is nasty and ugly and often the innocents get hurt. But there is a difference between innocents dying by accident with a stray missile and deliberately blowing up schools, buses, crowds, etc. Our President expresses remorse when innocents are hurt, terrorists dance in the street with joy. If we walk away and "give peace a chance" because we fear the collateral damage we might do, then innocent lives will continue to suffer and die under the tyranny of evil men who will kill anyone to obtain power and dominion.

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