Tuesday, February 24, 2009

becoming a pacifist

“But wait!” cries out the inevitable voice of rational dissent. “What about war that is necessary to prevent greater evil? What about the need to stop Hitler sixty years ago, and wasn’t it good for NATO to intervene to stop the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims at the hands of Christian Serbia? Shouldn’t someone have sent troops to stand between the Hutus and the Tutsis and between innocent Sudanese civilians and the Janjaweed?”

It is a good and reasonable question, and my embrace of pacifism is not naive. Sometimes war seems unavoidable. I know this, but it doesn’t mean I have to like the violence of war or to proclaim allegiance to a system of thought that is anything but profoundly opposed to war. Historically, it seems that starvation is just as inevitable as warfare. That doesn’t mean I should be “pro-famine” or try to work out a theologically-and philosophically-sound “just-hunger” theory.

When human disagreements deteriorate into bloodshed, it is a failure of human imagination to find peaceable solutions to conflict. It is a demonstration of our inability, as a species, to set aside greed and prejudice, anger and bloodlust. I want no part of that inability. I think we can do better. As a Christian I believe we are created in the image of a God who at times is known as the Prince of Peace, a God who had called us blessed who work for peace. The time has come for me to serve that God as a pacifist.

Ben Daniel, "Why I Am a Pacifist." http://bendaniel.org/?p=222

Sunday, February 22, 2009

the city

So the city became the material expression of a particular loss of innocence—not sexual or political innocence but somehow a shared dream of what a city might at its best prove to be—its inhabitants became, and have remained, an embittered and amnesiac race, wounded but unable to connect through memory to the moment of the injury, unable to summon the face of their violator.

Out of that night and day of unconditional wrath, folk would've expected to see any city, if it survived, all newly reborn, purified by flame, taken clear beyond greed, real-estate speculating, local politics—instead of which, here was this weeping widow, some one-woman grievance committee in black, who would go on to save up and lovingly record and mercilessly begrudge every goddamn single tear she ever had to cry, and over the years to come would make up for them all by developing into the meanest, cruelest bitch of a city, even among cities not notable for their kindness.
Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day. New York: Penguin, 2006. 153-154.