Pacifism and Non-resistance

Where are You on the Pacifist Spectrum?


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lunamoth

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Hi All,

I've been thinking about the spectrum of pacifism lately, not only in regard to how our various candidates view acts of national defense and war, but at a more personal level of where, exactly, I am as a pacifist.

My daughter (8 years old) would like to take karate, and this has brought me to think more deeply about what I want to teach her with repsect to non-violence. The karate school we have looked at does have as part of its creed that she will only "fight to protect herself and the lives of others." I think about that line very carefully.

I consider myself a pacifist, but not a strict pacifist because I know that I would fight physically against immediate threats to myself and my family, as in someone physically threatening immediate injury or death. I don't believe there is such a thing as just war, but I do think there are times when fighting against another nation or group is the least of evils to choose from.

I do believe in passive resistance, such as Ghandi's march to the sea and peaceful protest. So, I don't believe in total non-resistance to evil (completely detaching and not doing anything in the face of injustice and suffering).

But, I don't believe in pre-emptive wars, or war as anything but an aboslute last resort. I don't believe in retaliation, either personal or communal, national (Joe Biden's going out to bloody the bully's nose after the fact). War is just so tricky because the motives are so mixed...individual good can be done in the face of war, but overall it's just a mess.

Anyway, I wonder if I'll be giving my daughter a mixed message if I encourage her in karate, but tell her that violence is absolutely wrong.

Thoughts?
 
It has been a long time since I've been in a fight. And I honestly can't say how I'd react if encountered.

In regards to myself and family I've talked my way out, walked my way out of more than one situation that had the ability to go awry. Situations that in the past I would have used violence to solve. But since they did not turn to violence (verbal assualt, threatened violence, angered stances) I can not say how I would have responded.

I believe that having the ability to use self defence or offensive techniques as taught in Karate class do have the potential of reducing violence around you. If it is a school that focuses on discipline, skill and exercise there is much in that that will be useful. The carry a big stick idea.
 
Well my only experience of martial arts was 1 semester of judo many, many years ago-when they got to the choke holds that scared me off.:) I think it really depends on how it's packaged as my understanding of many martial arts approaches is that the focus is primarily on promoting good body awareness and physical skills and most instructors worth their salt would discourage an aggressive attitude, but suppose like with any teacher you'd have to be alert to see their actual teaching style. In some sense it features no more innate aggressiveness than fencing. Will the attitude be "I seek to harm another" or will it be "I seek to best another?" earl
 
Hi Luna

"If Mr. Gandhi can protect his sister from rape through non-violent means, then I will be a pacifist." Simone Weil


I'm in favor of defense of self, family, friends, strangers and country.

The real question IMO is what is the motive for defensive action. Does one become offensive by just assuming the need to do so and fool themselves into believing it was defensive?

Dave Kopel on Dalai Lama & Self-Defense on National Review Online=

This raises an interesting question: Can an ethical follower of Tibetan Buddhism kill someone in order to save the Dalai Lama? Or in order to fight religious totalitarianism in general?

Absolutely yes. Although some Westerners imagine that the Dalai Lama is an absolute pacifist, the teachings of the present Dalai Lama and of his predecessor, as well as the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, all legitimize the use of deadly force against killers and would-be tyrants.



Anyway, I wonder if I'll be giving my daughter a mixed message if I encourage her in karate, but tell her that violence is absolutely wrong.

Is self defense a violent act? It may be but doesn't have to be. Self defense though appearing violent may be a conscious action while strict violence is an unconscious reaction. A person can be cool calm, and collected during self defense.

A right to self-defense is recognized by the Dalai Lama and Simone agrees that self defense and the defense of others is necessary. Seems right to me and I cannot help but agree.

There is also this intriguing possibility suggested by Simone:

"Simone Weil once said, ì I would like to achieve the kind of radiance that can bring about nonviolently what other people might have to do violently. And, of course, we see teachers like that. We see parents like that, who have a kind of radiance so that they don't have to raise their voice; they don't have to beat their children . . . They simply make a different atmosphere." Sissela Bok

It is one thing to be a pacifest and another thing to create a different atmosphere in response to violence. But how many have the inner quality necessary to do it?

 
Hi wil, noticed you also picked passive resistance to authorities, and I meant to pick that one too. That would include non-resistance to arrest.
 
Lunamoth, I picked the personal, national, & international defense option as, though I detest war, there are those times. Internationally, of course, WWII would spring to the mind of many fairly ardent pacifists. What, of course, troubles me about US foreign policy is how and why/when they choose to go to war. When Bush was talking about deposing the cruel dictator, Hussein as a boon to his tormented people, I thought about Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, etc. etc. etc. Why Iraq & not all these other tormented regions? Motivation indeed. earl
 
Lunamoth, I picked the personal, national, & international defense option as, though I detest war, there are those times. Internationally, of course, WWII would spring to the mind of many fairly ardent pacifists. What, of course, troubles me about US foreign policy is how and why/when they choose to go to war. When Bush was talking about deposing the cruel dictator, Hussein as a boon to his tormented people, I thought about Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, etc. etc. etc. Why Iraq & not all these other tormented regions? Motivation indeed. earl


I hear you earl, and yes, this is exactly what I mean by mixed motivations in war. Hussein was cruel, but we seem to tolerate a lot worse...
 
I have lived as a pacifist before. I think it was worthwhile in some ways, but I am not sure anymore about what decision I would make next time. Pacifism is sort of a rule that you sometimes break when you cannot hold back any longer, isn't it?
 
Anyway, I wonder if I'll be giving my daughter a mixed message if I encourage her in karate, but tell her that violence is absolutely wrong.

Thoughts?



Understandably, the threat of being assaulted has many youths thinking about how they can protect themselves.

but i thought it was interesting what this person said

Isao Obata, co-founder of the Japan Karate Association, once remarked about karate


"The mind is the gun and the body the bullet."

so thinking about Jesus words,
"Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword,"
could it refer to practicers of karate?’
is practicing karate really comparable to possessing weapons?’

I agree with the Scriptural counsel not to trust in weapons for self-defense because they have often caused the death of innocent people.

The Bible does not categorically condemn self-protection, even the use of force if necessary.
But authorities in the field of protection from crime often stress that reliance on a weapon—whether a gun, a knife or techniques such as judo or karate—is not the wisest course.


 
i couldnt pick a choice. I firmly believe that you should defend yourself and those that cant by what ever means are available at the time. defend the defenceless, etc. IMO there is a terrible degree of pacificts and those that dont want to be involved in others problems. If they ask for help you should give it, if they dont ask, you should offer. Sometimes in the real world you have to get violent to live/help etc. Unfortunately its true, it would be nice to have everyone get along, but it doesnt happen. I will tell you this, tho. There is nothing more off putting for me, when a "man" runs from a situation or pretends he doesnt see it and leaves the "mess" to be taken care of by others. (usually a woman). That loses respect and it NEVER comes back. so i say, try to live in peace, but defend your home. (whether that is your house, your neighbourhood or your country). imo.
 
Namaste lunamoth,

thank you for the OP.

i didn't select an option in the poll, sorry :)

there is a great deal of confusion, in my estimation, regarding the Buddhist teaching of "ahisma" the prohibition against the taking of sentient life. one can engage in quite a violent response to an attack, say on ones' person, without killing ones attacker.

whilst the article that Nick cited is factually incorrect regarding Buddhism in Tibet it is correct in that the Buddhist prohibition regarding the use of violence and even deadly force is really misunderstood by most non-Buddhists and even quite a few Buddhists that have not spent much time reading the Suttas.

in my own case, seeing as how i'm a trained killer and all, i would use violence force to confront an attacker yet not kill them should the situation arise. fortunately i am wise enough to recognize when those situations could arise and tend to avoid or extricate myself before any physical confrontation would occur.

metta,

~v

p.s. i voted ;)
 
I chose strict pacifism and personal/family defense. Why? For me it's the ideal vs. the real. I do think that violence begets violence and that strict pacifism is the ideal and the most powerful message one can send energetically and spiritually. However, I'm realistic about my own limitations, and if I were personally threatened (or my family in immediate danger), I would be likely to fight. However, I would avoid killing. All life is sacred, even beings that have strayed from goodness, and so I am aware that killing, even out of defense, brings with it an impact to my own soul.

I'm all for passive and active resistance as long as it is non-violent. This would include manipulation and subversion, as well as illegal activities, such as avoiding paying taxes as protest for the war.

I have no qualms about challenging authority in ways that are effective. I just have qualms about violence and killing.

My issues with war are not only killing, but as Luna points out, the shaky justifications and timing of war. As I think intent does matter for the energetic and spiritual outcome of events, which persists far longer than the physical outcomes in most cases, I am very wary of war in general as the intent is generally based in fear and hate, which are both antithetical to human advancement.

As for karate, I see the martial arts as primarily training for self-control and discipline in the body and mind, and union of body and mind. I think that they are probably an excellent way to train someone in control of their body and mind, so that if they are put into a stressful defensive position, they have more knowledge and control over how they defend themselves, ensuring minimal harm to the attacker. At least, that is how I would see it in an ideal world.
 
I chose strict pacifism and personal/family defense. Why? For me it's the ideal vs. the real. I do think that violence begets violence and that strict pacifism is the ideal and the most powerful message one can send energetically and spiritually. However, I'm realistic about my own limitations, and if I were personally threatened (or my family in immediate danger), I would be likely to fight. However, I would avoid killing. All life is sacred, even beings that have strayed from goodness, and so I am aware that killing, even out of defense, brings with it an impact to my own soul.

I'm all for passive and active resistance as long as it is non-violent. This would include manipulation and subversion, as well as illegal activities, such as avoiding paying taxes as protest for the war.

I have no qualms about challenging authority in ways that are effective. I just have qualms about violence and killing.

My issues with war are not only killing, but as Luna points out, the shaky justifications and timing of war. As I think intent does matter for the energetic and spiritual outcome of events, which persists far longer than the physical outcomes in most cases, I am very wary of war in general as the intent is generally based in fear and hate, which are both antithetical to human advancement.

As for karate, I see the martial arts as primarily training for self-control and discipline in the body and mind, and union of body and mind. I think that they are probably an excellent way to train someone in control of their body and mind, so that if they are put into a stressful defensive position, they have more knowledge and control over how they defend themselves, ensuring minimal harm to the attacker. At least, that is how I would see it in an ideal world.
Energetic or spiritual or emotional aftermath of killing is hard for those of us not affected by such to imagine. Thank God, I've not had that visited upon me. I recently began working with a WWII vet in a nursing home ostensibly due to his anxiety about his failing health. Yet, it wasn't his health foremost on his mind. Rather, it was the killing he witnessed which still haunts him 60 years later. earl
 
Thanks for the interesting discussion so far folks. :)

FWiW, I decided not to have my daughter take karate, but mostly because it is too much of a money and time committment. I can understand the time committment, as learning anything of value takes dedication and time, but she's just eight and is involved in other things too. And it was just too expensive. :)

I decided though that there is not a conflict with learning karate, at least not at this particular school which emphasizes discipline, self-control, and self-defense, and not offense, and the values I'm teaching her. In fact, I spoke today with a friend whom I consider one of the most centered, gentle, yet strong people I know and he took karate for years as a kid. I think the non-violence message I teach would not be in conflict.

In case anyone was curious.
 
I agree with you Luna, about kids and some of their sports/hobbies. tho. Brady is only 10 (nearly 11) and has tried, tae kwon do, rugby league, hockey, basketball, cricket, swimming, and jsut about every other sport on offer here. I have to put a rule of only one at a time, and you must stick it out for the season. So far, he has only gone back to rugby league twice. LOL. oh well, at least he is giving everthing a shot. Its the time and money factor for me as well. But I will let him try most things. Lately his "passion" is outrigging. Oh well, here we go again............... LOL.
 
I am thinking that the way to make pacifism really of any value is to first have the martial capability. Allow me to explain, if I am able. If a person (or group) is incapable of mounting a genuine defense (or offense), an opponent with less ethical scruples would only see a target, a willing sacrificial victim. Kinda defeats the purpose.

That is the reason groups like the Cosa Nostra, the Crips and the Bloods, the Hells Angels and other such exist...because there *are* people in the world who genuinely don't give a damn and look for opportunity to exploit the disadvantaged and weak. Look at how a dog pack will turn on an injured member of their pack...in some sense it is evolutionary, it is genetic, it is normal and natural.

Pacifism holds value when a person or group *is* capable of mounting a genuine defense or offense, and *chooses* not to.

How many among us mindlessly eradicate vermin? No second thoughts, squash that bug. Because that bug has no genuine defense against us. Unless its a hornet, then the parameters change a little. That hornet is capable of mounting a genuine defense, so if the hornet passively allows us to coexist within his sphere, that could truly be said to be pacifism.

The value of course lies in us knowing that if we do not accept the hornet's offer of passive coexistence, then we had better pack a lunch, a bee keeper's suit and an industrial size can of bug spray...and hope like hell our aim is true the first time, 'cause the next shot might be coming at us!

In short, the bully has to realize there are consequences. Otherwise, ya will be coughing up yer lunch money and going hungry until ya figure it out.

Some days yer the hornet, some days yer the bug spray.

That pretty well sums up my take on the matter. ;) I am most peaceful when I can afford to be.
 
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I think that girls especially need to be taught to be competitive. Self esteem comes from owning ability. Often girls aren't held to the same level of expectation in performance as boys. I was raised to be a pacifist but I want my kids to fight back. If someone picks a fight with them I want them to hit back.

Chris
 
Hi All,

I've been thinking about the spectrum of pacifism lately, not only in regard to how our various candidates view acts of national defense and war, but at a more personal level of where, exactly, I am as a pacifist.

My daughter (8 years old) would like to take karate, and this has brought me to think more deeply about what I want to teach her with repsect to non-violence. The karate school we have looked at does have as part of its creed that she will only "fight to protect herself and the lives of others." I think about that line very carefully.

I consider myself a pacifist, but not a strict pacifist because I know that I would fight physically against immediate threats to myself and my family, as in someone physically threatening immediate injury or death. I don't believe there is such a thing as just war, but I do think there are times when fighting against another nation or group is the least of evils to choose from.

I do believe in passive resistance, such as Ghandi's march to the sea and peaceful protest. So, I don't believe in total non-resistance to evil (completely detaching and not doing anything in the face of injustice and suffering).

But, I don't believe in pre-emptive wars, or war as anything but an aboslute last resort. I don't believe in retaliation, either personal or communal, national (Joe Biden's going out to bloody the bully's nose after the fact). War is just so tricky because the motives are so mixed...individual good can be done in the face of war, but overall it's just a mess.

Anyway, I wonder if I'll be giving my daughter a mixed message if I encourage her in karate, but tell her that violence is absolutely wrong.

Thoughts?
One who learns the discipline of the empty hand "karate", learns not to fight, but is ready in case the need arises to fight. That is not in conflict with you beliefs. No hypocracy there.
 
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