Thursday, March 23, 2006

What sort of "pacifist" am I?

I am a confused, or muddled pacifist. But before (sigh) FOX does it on behalf of people like me, I will come out on record and say that I appreciate and even enjoy the irony of the Christian Peacemakers being rescued by a military operation. I also enjoy the irony that (so far as we know) no shots were fired and no harm was inflicted on someone else in aid of rescuing these guys -- but I'd be asking for trouble were I to make a bigger deal of that fact than it merits. For those of my readers who aren't pacifist, the fact remains: your guys rescued our guys. It sounds to me like our team is, indeed, genuinely grateful for your services -- quite properly, I would say. Thank you very much.

You may now commence with your crowing, while I splash about in some shallow soul-searching.

I won't bother trying to defend pacifism: better people than I have done a better job than I could ever hope to. I was raised in a Mennonite family in a Mennonite community, and my internalizing of certain values -- including pacifism and a host of other issues I've attempted to refute -- is too deep to try to root out and remove. Annotated Prajer Paraphrasal: Dietrich Bonnhoeffer -- people who hear Jesus' Sermon on the Mount either take it (and him) seriously, or start with the "yes, buts" that effectively write him off as a well-intentioned loon. Gandhi -- don't bother with pacifism unless you've completely given up on violent means.

On with the muddle: while I appreciate the spirit that informs the actions of the Christian Peacemakers Teams, I continue to feel conflicted when I consider their wisdom. Either side of this debate can throw a bundle of Bible verses at me -- please don't, because I've heard and read them all. Chances are I've also given your particular interpretive lenses some careful consideration. But like just about any other issue you care to name, the Bible does not provide irrefutable clarity on this. That's just one reason why I'm muddled.

Invading Iraq: I was against it. I still think it was a terrible mistake, born not out of pragmatic consideration but of either immeasurable hubris or a stunningly blinkered optimism, and I hope and pray it doesn't mount to a globally catastrophic mistake. I don't think my reasoning on this issue is particularly unique or unheard, so I'll move directly on to...

The Occupation of Iraq: hmm -- I'm muddled again. Bearing top of mind that I am not the one experiencing occupation, I can't help but wonder if this occupation, as incredibly fucked-up as it is, isn't a smidge better than yanking out altogether and leaving the natives to their own devices. If I am granted that (and that is a huge "if"), the question is, "What changes need to be made to make this a better occupation?" Ask a question like that, and you have to consider the parameters of...

Exporting Democracy: Way back in the early 1980s, a friend of mine went to East Berlin on a project (the organization will remain nameless) that placed him with dissident student groups hoping to plant the seeds of democracy in East Germany. Every couple of months I'd get one of those group-letters that spoke of the "enjoyable challenges", the "exciting opportunities", the "difficult, but immensely rewarding struggles" he partook in. He returned a year or two after the Wall came down. When I finally got the chance to ask him about his experiences, he said, "I doubt I'll ever again face anything in my life so frustrating as that. Everyone says they want democracy, but they change their mind when they see the work involved." As we talked, he hesitantly confessed he wasn't at all confident that humanity was "wired" for democracy. Churchill: it's the worst form of government there is, except for all the others.

Work, work, work. I've got no answers for you, just a proposal: either join me in the Assholes on Parade, or shut off the computer, step outside, and talk to your neighbor. Hmm. Maybe the parade can wait...


DarkoV said...

Invading Iraq:
WP, I believe you are too kind or perhaps your age doesn't correspond with the level of cynicism one would expect from living longer. You say that "it was a terrible mistake, born not out of pragmatic consideration but of either immeasurable hubris or a stunningly blinkered optimism". I insist it was nothing more and nothing less than pure Greed (as defined as one of the Deadly Seven) conducted in a cloaked administration that most closely resembles those of Brezhnev and Kosigyn. The fact that the only hesitation for the invasion came from the only Bush administration Cabinet memebr that had actually served in a war indicated to me the level of Greed these idiots were intending to commit. May the blood of the innocent Iraqi civilians and that of all of our soldiers weigh these villains down so they can't breath. To have died for their cause while thinking you were fighting for another is a shame and a tragedy. I put the Roma/Croatian curse on them; may the Bushies shit through their ribs.

Whisky Prajer said...

DV - you caught me in an ideological frame of mind, and as you ably point out, greed is adaptable to any ideology. So, yes: greed was most definitely a factor in this lamentable "decision-making process".

Trent Reimer said...

Regarding the export of democracy, how is it the west assumes democracy encompasses modern western values?

Democracy is not inherently good or evil, it is simply the will of the majority. If the majority want Hamas, that IS democracy. If the majority believe people who convert from Islam to another faith must die, that is democracy too.

If the majority believe a president who in the face of verifiable fact employs repetition to convince people to believe a lie, that also is democracy.