This Remembrance Sunday, as we remember and reflect on the conflicts and sacrifices of the past and present, I’d like to pose a question.
Are you a pacifist ?
There surely aren’t many people who love war, who see conflict as a desirable way to settle differences, a fantastic accomplishment of the human race !
But many would no doubt agree that unfortunately, in some circumstances, when faced with violence and aggression, and where no other reasonable option exists for peaceful resolution, then conflict and war are sometimes necessary in the real world. After all, if someone broke into your house, intent on harming those you love, who wouldn’t resort to force to protect them ?
These arguments are of course very reasonable, and used by many to explain why they’re not absolute pacifists – myself included.
But there’s something these arguments miss.
Pacifism isn’t just about when we choose to go to war or not – it’s also about how we go about building lasting peace with others.
Peace isn’t simply the absence of war.
Real lasting peace comes from respect, tolerance, trust and fairness, without fear, envy or resentment. If we treat others, whether in the world or in our street, with contempt, scorn or a lack of respect, or if we act unfairly, unjustly or dishonestly with them, then we can scarcely be said to be ‘making peace’.
Real peace making is surely about more than simply the ending of physical violence – it’s about building fair and respectful relationships with others – between nations, tribes, religions, social classes or individuals.
If we want our future to have less conflict, we need to make sure our present has more love.
“The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war”
“If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that proceed the cannon shots !”
Photo by HuwowenThomas, via Flickr