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December11TwoViewsOnViolence

East Pierce can't be easily defined as either politically liberal or conservative. We have gun shows and organic farms, skate parks and rowdy bible-thumpers. Bicycle commuters weave through SUV parking lots. I've never seen an organic restaurant so full of Christian advocacy outside of Pierce County. It's quite a mix.

When people know they disagree, often, there's very little conversation that happens. Personally, I love the conversation. This is especially important when it comes to big issues like war.

Believe it or not, there are hippies in the military. I dedicate this column to them. After many long conversations in churches and potlucks and political rallies, I've realized this: there are two very different perspectives about war. Both perspectives are internally consistent, and there is no possible way to prove that either is more correct.

The first perspective, held by many in the military, is that there are just bad people out there in the world. This perspective holds that human nature is partially crazy and violent, and that people who exhibit these characteristics should be forcefully stopped. Evidence that this view is correct is shown by all sorts of good-conquers-evil kind of stories. This view also holds that peace-makers and sustainability activists (such as myself) can do their work by virtue of a huge military that keeps me safe.

The second view sees that violence creates violence, and that you can't bomb a country into peace. This perspective tends to look at the other basics of human nature, that we all want respect, justice, and safety for our loved ones. Military action, and especially world policing, may actually be a self-fulfilling prophecy by causing more violence. If we want to live in a world of compassion, maybe the way to make that world happen is by being compassionate.

While the usual military perspective may say they keep peace activists safe, the peace activists may say that if their work was done on a global level, we may not need a military at all. Evidence that their view is correct is shown by any story where enemies realize they share much in common, and that the violence helps no one. (Well, maybe the corporations, but that's a different topic).

As I say, both of these are internally consistent. You choose. What I like to think is, “Well, since we can't know for sure which is truer, what at least do I want for my life? Do I want to focus on love, or to focus on fear?” The kicker is, violent retaliation often creates more victims, and thus perpetuates more violence. It's a terrible tactic, if nothing else. I choose love.

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Page last modified on December 12, 2008, at 05:29 PM