Give war a chance?
So I'm waiting for the bus in downtown Amherst this afternoon, when I see this lady with a peace sign.
It turns out she's on her way to a big rally in front of the UMass Fine Arts Center against the violence in the Middle East. Of course my nose for news compels me to attend. When I arrive I'm surprised by the size of the crowd.
I recognize a lot of my fellow crazies from the pro-panhandling crusade. The whole event is constantly being photographed and filmed.
Some protesters are obviously pro-Palestinian, but the majority I think are just peacers who are opposed to all warfare and who condemn the use of violence under any circumstances.
I hate violence too, but I don't agree that war is never justified. I admire the activism of these peacers, but not their cause. What they're doing is playing on people's emotions in hopes of getting people to feel that war is never justified, which is nonsense.
If a person broke into your house armed with a knife and threatened to rob you and hurt your family, would you say to the intruder, "I'm a pacifist, and because violence never solves anything, I will therefore do nothing to stop you. Can't we talk about this instead?"
Or would you attack the intruder with every bit of physical force you could muster in order to disarm him and protect your loved ones?
A person behaving like a pacifist in the face of such a threat would actually be encouraging violence, and certainly would inspire no one's respect. Nations are simply collections of people, and while people and their nations should avoid resorting to violence whenever possible, no sensible person believes that it is never necessary. What else can you do when another person, or another country, decides that they are not interested in talking things over, and makes clear that they intend to get whatever they want by force unless somebody stops them? You respond by giving them what every bully understands best - a punch in the nose in the form of either a fist, on the personal level, or a cruise missile, on the national one.
It is inaccurate to say, as so many peacers do, that war has never solved any problems. In fact war has solved some of the biggest problems mankind has ever faced. Was it a mistake to go to war to end slavery? Should Hitler have been confronted by a candlelight vigil? Would communism have fallen to repeated verses of Kumbaya? Will terrorists be convinced to surrender by sit-ins and hunger strikes? Whenever evil has gone on a rampage, the lesson of history is that evil will succeed until those opposed to it fight back.
It seems to me this is the case in this latest phase of the endlessly violent farce playing out in the Middle East. The other day Israel stopped fighting for three hours in order to let international relief agencies in to help the wounded. The Palestinians responded by showering Israel with bombs for the entire three hours. How can Israelis deal with such opponents, who completely reject peace as an option?
The whole mess is made only more complicated by religion, which is no surprise since religion seems to figure into most wars. The religious angle turns everybody who gets killed into a martyr, and of course then martyrs must be avenged, and so the cycle of violence goes on and on. The world doesn't need any more martyrs, even the ones that die looking incredibly sexy, like Saint Sebastian.
Seriously, why are we still behaving so primitively in 2009? That's the real question.
I've decided to take a break from the vault material for awhile. Before I do, here's a few loose scraps from the recent excavations.
This is my mother's PTA membership card from the World Famous Thomas M. Balliet Elementary School. Notice how the PTA leaders all use their husband's name rather than their own.
Here are activists standing outside the Pine Point Library on Election Day in 2005.
Also in 2005, this is former State Rep. Paul Caron with WAIC host Tony Gill.
Valley appliance baron Manny Rovithis relaxes at Salvatores on Boston Road in Springfield.
On a Northampton mailbox is some useful information for the future.
Finally, don't let me sink too deep.