Wednesday, October 13, 2004

What would happen if we used the pacifist's methods?

Fr. John McCuen writes:
And yet I can’t help but wonder how the world might have been changed if, after the terrorist attacks of 9-11, we had responded, . . . not striking back by declaring a war in which force meets force; but by saying, in words and deeds, “You cannot defeat us. No matter what you do, you shall not change our way of life. We shall prevail, and you shall not stop us.
Actually, we did that after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. And the U.S.S. Cole. And the bombings in Lebanon and Sudan. And the taking of hostages in Iran. (Well, we tried to do something in Sudan and Iran, but the actions were so ill-planned and half-heartedly launched that they didn't accomplish anything but the deaths of our own people.) We didn't do anything about the murderers of Leon Klinghoffer; and the murderers of the 17 Israeli athletes eventually went free.

I respect pacifism, but pacifists should acknowledge that the methods of pacifism do not necessary lead to victory. More often, they lead to defeat. The pacifist does not sully his hands or his soul fighting the murderer, the rapist, the school bomber or the Nazi. The pacifist leaves Saddam in power and his sons in charge of the Olympic team and the rape rooms. The pacifist understands that suffering can lead to great spiritual depth and so does not try to keep evil from triumphing over the innocent. Or he will try, using words, and if words don't work, he will use more words. And if those don't work, then more words yet. It may not work -- yet more people die -- but the pacifist's conscience and hands are clean.

If sin is evil, if murder destroys the soul of the murderer, then is it any gift to the murderer to be allowed to act unchecked? I know the answer I would give to that question, but I'm not a pacifist.

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