WHAT IS PACIFISM?

 
 
 STUDY AND TEACHING
 RESOURCES
   
     

 

 
 

 

 


Some dictionary definitions:

Pacifism: the conviction that war should be abolished.
Pacifism: opposition to war and violence as a means of settling disputes
Pacifism: complete renunciation of violence, even in self-defence, in settling disputes.
Pacifism: advocacy of opposition to war through individual or collective action against militarism.
Pacifism: the doctrine of opposition to all wars, including civil wars. Its most obvious feature is the personal commitment to non-participation in wars, except possibly in a non-combatant role. Pacifists also advocate efforts to maintain peace and support disarmament.

 
         
 

CONTENTS
- why is war wrong?
- aggression and revenge
- the right to live
- the web of war
- changing the way we think
- pacifism in action
- faq's
- further reading











supplementary information
- Children & War
- Kosovo
- Wars World Wider
- War is only an invention

 

WHY IS WAR WRONG?

Disasters make news. Television and newspapers show us the pictures: the destruction, the injured survivors, the dead. What we don't see, unless we're the victims of an earthquake or flood or volcano ourselves, is what life is like afterwards. We rarely get glimpses of survivors struggling to cope with grief and illness or disability, in makeshift conditions and facing years - maybe even a lifetime - of deprivation and loss.

There is another kind of disaster: war. Pictures from war zones show the same tragic scenes, the same dreadful aftermath. But war is worse. When war is going on, help for its victims may be slow in coming, or never arrive at all. The victims can themselves become pawns of war: deliberately driven from their homes, abused or tortured, their towns and villages bombed or burned. Large areas of land become uninhabitable, poisoned by dangerous chemicals and littered with unexploded weapons that go on killing for years to come. Some people - often children - are forced by governments or self-appointed leaders to join in the fighting and commit brutal acts and killings themselves. In war zones law and order disappear, and no-one is safe.

Unlike earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions, war is a disaster created entirely by people, against people. It is never an accident: making war is always somebody's decision. Nations spend vast amounts of money on training soldiers to fight and kill. They spend even more on devising and manufacturing weapons and machinery for fighting and killing. That is not the only expense. Huge sums are also needed for dealing with the damage when a war is officially over. ('Officially', because the effects of war continue long after the truce has been signed.)

From this evidence alone, it ought to be clear to everyone that there's little to be said for war. But little has been done to liberate the world from it. War still fascinates and excites some people, though it fills many others with revulsion and horror. Too many people - and too many of their leaders - still think that war is defensible, and that it's not actually wrong for people to learn how to kill each other in large numbers. [more]

For all these reasons, and more, the invention of war is one of humankind's greatest blunders. It needs to be put right.

 
   

   








 

The bottom line of pacifism is simply this: human beings invented war, and human beings should make it obsolete. [see War is only an invention] War, like a disease, can in time be eradicated; and that's what we should be working to achieve.

It means learning to overcome the conditioned belief that armed force is an acceptable way of dealing with disputes. It's a human weakness, not a strength, to solve problems with cruelty, brutality and murder. As a species we have already matured enough for modern societies to decide that wartime atrocities are crimes; people can be arrested for them, tried and punished. Now we should realise that war is itself a crime against humanity, and grow wise enough to solve our problems another way. CONTINUE

 
     

 PART TWO: AGGRESSION AND REVENGE  

 

 

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