War & Pacifism

13 Jul

During an 8 hour drive today I had a lot of time to think about war and pacifism. I abhor war. Yes I find it very interesting to study, but it really is a tragedy any time one group of people commits organized mass murder on another group of people.

In order for you to kill another human being you must first de-humanize them. You have to separate yourself from them, and them from humanity. It’s much easier to kill them when they’re detached that way. It’s the same principle behind road rage. People who commit acts of road rage often view their targets as just cars. It’s much easier that way. You wouldn’t react that way if you were both walking on a sidewalk. Yes you might get upset if someone did something rude or inconsiderate, but without a car you would be forced to see them as a person.

The really sad thing is that once you realize that the people you’re killing are people, you realize that in any other situation you might be friends with them. They could be your neighbor, your co-worker, a lover. Someone you’d invite to your kid’s birthday party, someone you’d go out and see a movie with. Someone who’d send you a get well card when you were sick. Another human being with pains and joys just like you.

There are some people in the my country who want to bomb and invade Iran. I imagine they view Iranians as a sub-human, America hating, nefarious people. But here, look at this picture of some of these “wicked” people:

They are the same as you and me! Why would you want to drop a bomb on these three women?

As the world has gotten smaller through the internet, I have met and befriended so many interesting people in ways not even conceivable 20 years ago. I’ve met people in Germany, El Salvador, Australia, England, South Africa, Holland, Canada, Switzerland, you name it! These are awesome people, and you know what the most amazing thing is? They are all just like you and me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love watching war movies, yet there is something I think few people stop and think about while watching them. That something comes across in this gripping scene from “All quiet on the Western front.” (Fast forward to 5 minutes in, that’s the important part)

Yes, you might be watching a war movie and around the main character people are getting shot left and right, and the action pulses on. But stop. Rewind. Now pay attention to that anonymous soldier getting shot. As he collapses to the ground the action goes on, meanwhile he is bleeding to death and going into shock. You might not know it, but he has a name. He had birthday parties and cake growing up, like you. He had a childhood, like you. He probably was nervous the first time he kissed a girl, excited when he got his first bicycle. He had a family, and perhaps even now has a wife and child who will never see him come home because he is hemorrhaging in the dirt.

Another thing nobody considers is the actual pain and damage inflicted on the other person. On the subject of their line of “tactical” guns (aka, not for hunting animals), Remington states:

Tactical is more than just a type of gun or knife. Tactical is a state of mind. It’s knowing you have the right tool for the job, and the confidence to do it, regardless of how intense. In situations where tactical performance matters, why would you rely on anything but the best? Remington, tactically smart.”

Right tool for the job? It’s a fucking human being! Not a goddamn leaky sink! Your taking a piece of metal and shooting it into another person just like you or your child with so much force that it’s going to rip and shred every bone, vain, and muscle it touches. “Right tool for the job”? What a euphemism.

One of the downsides to modern combat is just how impersonal killing has become. You press a button and a building miles away blows up. Big deal. You no longer have to get close enough to your victim to grab hold of them, feel their pulse, their sweat and look them in the eye as you plunge that blade into their body, then watch and listen as they scream and the light fades from their eyes.

So, after this long post, does this mean I’m a pacifist? No. I think this picture can best sum up pacifism:

Pacifism

As much of a tragedy as war is, I’m not a pacifist. I believe in defensive war, but not offensive. People and nations have the right to defend themselves from outside threats, but I don’t agree with using offensive force to get one’s way.

One Response to “War & Pacifism”

  1. Brian July 13, 2009 at 4:42 pm #

    “They are all just like you and me.” Does that include the wicked people who want to bomb Iran?

    I hang out with lots of Republicans, conservatives, and even neocons, and none of them cackle with glee while extolling their plots to blow apart cute Iranian girls “and their little dogs, too!” The people they do want to blow up are the thugs who shoot girls at protest rallies, or force them back into a burning building because they don’t have a headscarf on. These are people who have seen Persepolis and watched the YouTube videos of the protests and Tweeted links to first-aid for bullet wounds. It’s exactly because of pictures like the one you posted, and the belief that those girls want the chance to go to school and dance in clubs and have access to birth control, just like they do, that make them think that attacking Iran might be a good thing.

    There are also those who want to destroy Iran’s ability to build nuclear weapons. I don’t know enough to say whether or not that would involve bombing suburban Tehran or similar neighborhoods. Regardless, apparently the threat is so real, there’s talk of Saudi Arabia working with the Israelis on such a strike.

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