Friday, August 5, 2005

In honor of Peace Sunday

This Sunday is Peace Sunday, the day many take to remember the horrors of that first grand terrorist attack, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to rededicate ourselves to the work for peace. To that end, our church has posted its Peace Statement over at Life at Jeff Street should you be inclined to check it out.

Also, be sure to check out Inexpugnable, where she currently has a great collection of posts on successful peacemaking examples.

Lord, Make us an instrument of your peace...

(some interesting quotes on the subject)

One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In nonviolence, the masses have a weapon that enables a child, a woman, or even a decrepit old man to resist the mightiest government successfully. If your spirit is strong, mere lack of physical strength ceases to be a handicap.


Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.
Maria Montessori

Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore (individual citizens) have the duty to (refuse to obey) domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.

Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal, 1950

The streets of our country are in turmoil! The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting! Communists are seeking to destroy our country! Russia is threatening us with her might! Our republic is in danger, yes, danger from within and without! WE NEED LAW AND ORDER!
Adolph Hitler (sound familiar?)

I am sick and tired of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.

General William Tecumseh Sherman

War is the greatest plague that can afflict humanity; it destroys religions, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it.

Martin Luther

Was not war in the interest of democracy for the salvation of civilization a contradiction of terms, whoever said it or however often it was repeated?

Jane Addams

A country that has dangled the sword of nuclear holocaust over the world for half a century and claims that someone else invented terrorism is a country out of touch with reality.

John K. Stoner

Oh Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown out the thunder of guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander un-befriended the wastes of their desolated land. We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love. Amen.

Mark Twain

May I become at all times, both now and forever,
a protector for those without protection
a guide for those who have lost their way
a ship for those with oceans to cross
a bridge for those with rivers to cross
a sanctuary for those in danger
a lamp for those who need light
a place of refuge for those needing shelter
and a servant to all those in need.
The Dalai Lama


the Contrary Goddess said...

the bombs SAVED lives.

The Time said...

Goddess has it right. I think the work for Peace is a noble one, but the bombs Truman decided to drop saved lives.

Especially when you consider how many American troops would have died if the War kept going and going and going. Remember, Japan started the War, not us.

Also, there is an interesting study (I'll let you know if I find the link) about how many Japanese citizens would have died if we did not drop the bombs.

After all, if we didn't drop the bombs we would have launched a land invasion on main-land Japan: many military-types state that many more Japanese citizens would have died during such an invasion.

Remember, Japan started the war.

Jumpin' on the Bandwagon said...

I believe I understand the point you are trying to make here.

It is not about whether of not any country has ever been justified in going to war, but about the fact that war, in itself, is a failure.

A failure of diplomacy, a failure of society and a failure of humanity.

Being against war does not make you a pacifist, merely a realist.

I have always enjoyed history, and in particular military/conflict history. The greatest technological achievements occur during war (medicine, synthetics, computers, etc.) War puts human civilization in fast forward.

However, that does not make it a 'good' thing. Read any biography/memoirs of a soldier and you will find a person who despises war at a level that most of us will never understand.

I agree that the Atomic bomb did save lives- an ironic statement. However, that does not negate the fact that they are terrible weapons, or that the WWII was born in the ashes of the first World War- a massive diplomatic failure.

Thinking men and women have always prayed for peace. Maybe someday we will have it...

...but I am not holding my breath.

Kim said...

Bombs don't save lives.

War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.
- Thomas Mann

There never was a good war, or a bad peace.
- Benjamin Franklin letter to Josiah Quincy 1773

As long as I am alive, I will keep working for peace.

Dan, are you going to the Peace activites at UofL's Shelby campus this Sunday? There are going to be some Hiroshima survivors there...I can send you more info if you want it.

Peace to you Dan.

"Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me."

Dan Trabue said...

I think an argument CAN be made that bombs can save lives as well as decimate an entire city.

By bombing Iran right now, we'd save any lives that might have possibly been killed by any Iranians. By bombing Montana right now, we can stop any Mad Militia Men from killing anyone. By bombing Japan (targeting men, women and children) we were able to possibly save other men, women and children.

Doesn't make it right.

The thing is, if we justify targeting civilians, then we've justified the terrorists. But no! you say. You can only target civilians like we did with Hiroshima if doing so will serve some greater good.

And that, my friends, is what the 9/11 terrorists thought, as well.

Let's live better.

Good to hear from all of you. Thanks for writing. I'll continue to hope we might agree on some basics.

voixdange said...

Bombs perhaps save more lives than war. But that isn't the correct comparison. They certainly do not save more lives than non-violent direct action.
Great post! Thanks for the plug!

Sky Niangua said...

Oneness is an impossible thing in our present state of consciousness but 'if' the World could unite in the outlawing of wars and aggression ..and follow through with it through world courts...than maybe we could have peace and mediation.
Until then it is simply power vs. power with war always being justified.
Just my 2cts.

hipchickmamma said...

dan, great post as always.

that was spooky reading the hitler quote and stoner's quote:

"A country that has dangled the sword of nuclear holocaust over the world for half a century and claims that someone else invented terrorism is a country out of touch with reality."

absolute truth. we in the church need to remember "those who live by the sword, die by the sword" as christians we are not called to pick up swords against any of God's children. do you remember all these great quotes? how many books do you read in a day? you inspire me!

Eleutheros said...

As Christians, Hipchickmamma? Then the quote would be: "...all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." But He also said:

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."

My father was on one of those damp leaky concrete hulled troop transport ships in mid-Pacific in 1945 headed for the major troop landing in mainland Japan. He said all aboard knew the odds and all were exchanging letters and addresses with their buddies to give to their families since the majority expected not to survive. Then they got word that some sort of bomb had been dropped, then another, and by the time they were docking at Yokahama, they disembarked as an occupational force and not as artillery fodder on a Japanese beach.

Without the bombs it likely my father would not have returned from Japan. There was NO 'non violent direct action' possible or avaiable. Japan had worked itself up to the same mental froth as the Jihadists of the present day.

Trying to put a peacenik spin on Christianity, thinks I, comes from one rather obvious but very damaging mistranslation in the NT. What is considered by most folk as the original says:

"Eirene anthropois eudokias"

Or if you prefer the Latin:

"Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis"

In either case it reads:

"Peace to men of good will."
and NOT
"Peace, good will toward men."

Big difference. Peace is only divinely ordained toward those of good will. It is the imperial government of Japan that was to blame for the innocent deaths in Japan and no one else.

This area where I live is quite the peaceful place. There is very, very little violent crime. The reason is quite clear, no one here is predisposed to proffer peace to anyone but those of "good will." The others know they must look to their lives if they act to harm anyone.

If you really wanted to prevent wholesale violent deaths, outlawing bombs won't do it. Look to all the wars for the past 1000 years and reason behind them. If you want to prevent wars, outlaw religion.

voixdange said...

"There was NO 'non violent direct action' possible or avaiable."

This is an assumption of which there is no verification, since we did not try non-violent direct action.
I saw a very frightening interview on BBC last night. There was an interview of an American WWII veteran. He was also asserting that the bombs saved the lives of American soldiers. He made the statement that if dropping the bomb saved the life of even one American soldier,it was worth it. If one doesn't know how frightening that statement is, I can't explain it to them...
God is not an American. We have a mentalilty in this nation that American lives are of greater value than the lives of others. We live in a nation that acts as if the inhabitants of the rest of the world are expendable extras in a show about us and then walk around scratching our heads as to why we can't seem to elicit their "good will..." Our corporations rape their natural resources, our CIA and that of Britain are largely to blame for the instability of much of the Middle East.

The beginning of that quote "on Earth Peace."

hipchickmamma said...


i was wondering if someone would bring up ""Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."

and it is a good point. i have understood this to mean (and i have yet to take greek or latin so please forgive me if i have been using a poor translation) that the peace/pax jesus brings is not the one we expect, it is not the false peace that the world offers. last year i spent a lot of time with that quote because it disturbed me, disturbed me deeply. but as i sat with it and looked around i wondered if jesus was referring to (sorry, i'm being lazy and not whipping out my bible right now) or emphasizing his words when he speaks of brother turning against brother, son vs. father, child vs. parent, etc. i came to conclude that jesus' sword is cutting through the desires of this world, the values this world holds so high. jesus' life illustrates a life focused not on material things, or rigid legalism but one of compassion and concern for each and every neighbor we have. if we follow this path christ has drawn out, it is like taking a sword to this world and cutting the ties that bind us to it. that's just my take.

i look forward to learning greek next year so that i can be clearer about such matters--as you have illustrated the translation and original can vary and have different applications.

jesus was no shrinking violet, yet i do look at his life and see far more of a peacenik than warmonger if that means concern for those which most would turn away from and despise. i think it is a difficult but important challenge not to insert our own identities and characteristics onto jesus. i think we all do it, but we must caution against it, lest we turn ourselves into gods and God into nothing but a shadow.

i wholeheartedly agree--the veteran's quote is quite outrageous and appalling. i see it as one of the great dangers that arise from the belief that the USA was founded on Christian beliefs, or that we have a "Christian" nation. we have a lot to learn about humility and especially responsibility.

great discussion starter!

Sky Niangua said...

E said:
If you want to prevent wars, outlaw religion.

Heaven knows I know the harmful effects of man's use of religion towards another but I still would not outlaw religion.
Religion is valuable to the human spirit but the way in which it is implemented needs to be revised.
Personal, private, in your home and in your heart thus remaining sacred and then not a subject to be fought over.

docjim505 said...

I absolutely object to the use of the term 'terrorist attack' to describe the use of the A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These were acts of war, duly considered, ordered, and carried out under the lawful authority of a nation-state (i.e. the United States of America). By any standard definition, this does not constitute terrorism, and more than the German bombings of London or the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor constituted terrorism.

One may argue that there might have been another or even a better way to end the war, but I am not at all convinced. Consider what MIGHT have happened had we not dropped the Bombs:

1. Invastion of the Japanese mainland (Operation OLYMPIC-CORONET). Allied planners estimated that some 625,000 Allied (mostly US) troops would have lost their lives or been wounded in the assault. Given that the Japanese routinely lost 10 to our 1, that means 6.25 MILLION Japanese casualties, and the total devastation not only of Japanese cities, but also of the Japanese countryside.

2. The Soviets might well have been asked to participate in the assault, resulting in a partition of Japan similar to that of Germany or Korea. We're still dealing the the results of the latter.

3. I recall reading in Scientific American many years ago about a US biological warfare option. The scientists at Fort Detrick had developed a strain of mold that would infect and kill the Japanese rice crop, resulting in massive starvation on the islands.

4. Even if we had not resorted to a bio attack, our submarine blockade was choking off all trade with Japan. Again, we were threatening to starve the entire nation into submission.

5. Even if we hadn't had the Bomb, we were still launching fire raids over Japanese cities with conventional explosives that killed tens of thousands of Japanese civilians. Lest anybody think that this was mere gratuitous violence or 'terrorism' on the part of the Army Air Forces, read Gen. Curtis Lemay's autobiography. He developed and ordered the fire raids. He knew quite well that his men would be incinerating a lot of Japanese women and children, but Japanese industry had literally been disbursed to houses around factories, and the only way to burn out the Japanese ability to wage war was literally to burn their cities. Leaflets were dropped to warn civilians to get out of the targetted cities. Many did. Many, however, didn't.

Keep in mind also that there were elements within the Japanese military who did not want to surrender even after the Nagasaki bomb, and sttempted to stage a coup to overthrow the emperor because he, as least, was smart enough to see that the only hope for the survival of Japan as a nation was surrender.

And I must say in response to the opinion that it's 'frightening' that a US serviceman would be more concerned with the lives of his fellow GIs than with the lives of his enemy... The mind boggles. I know that it's been chic in some circles for people to consider themselves 'citizens of the world' and sneer at people who profess to be patriots (well, people who profess to be AMERICAN patriots, anyway), but the idea that an American soldier should make no moral distinction between his fellow GIs and his enemy is REALLY frightening. Thank God we have thousands of men and women in uniform who DON'T feel this way, and who WILL kill the enemy to keep their buddies - and the rest of us - safe.

docjim505 said...

And one final note about war: logically, the faster one can bring it to an end, the fewer lives will be lost EVEN IF 'overwhelming' violence is used. Consider a couple of 'what ifs':

1. What if either the Confederate army or the yankees had won at Manassas Junction. Let's even assume that one side had wiped out the other to a man. Yes, there would have been tens of thousands of casualties, and we'd read in horrible about the bloodshed. But it's reasonable to assume that the Civil War would have ended on that day in 1861, and those thousands of people who died at Sharpsburg and Gettysburg and Chickamauga would have lived. The devastation wreaked by Sherman on the South would not have happened.

2. What if the French Army had opposed the reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1935 with force? Yes, there would have been casualties, maybe even a lot of casualties. But World War II would probably never have happened, saving all those millions of lives that were otherwise lost.

It's ironic but I believe historically and logically demonstrable that the application of overwhelming force early on, even at the cost of many casualties, prevents protraction of the struggle and ultimately saves lives in the long run.

voixdange said...

1. Doc, We know that the bomb saved more lives than extended war. But as I stated before, that is not the correct comparison. The correct comparison would be between non- violence and the bomb.
2. I resent your very thinly veiled inuendo that those of us who are against war are not "AMERICAN" patriots. To quote one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism". I was born in this country. My family was here prior to the American Revolution. Who are you talking to? But more importantly,My loyalty is to my God and my faith, which comes before flag and country.
3. I was very specific in my quote. Sorry you missed it. The man being interviewed said that dropping the bomb on Japan would have been worth it to save the life of even ONE U.S. soldier.
4. Your comment comes across as brow beating a tone which does not add credence to your argument.

"Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
Hermann Goering
Nazi Reichsmarshall and Luftwaffe-Chief ...

Eleutheros said...

"This is an assumption of which there is no verification, since we did not try non-violent direct action."

It is an assumption, but the evidence is overwhelming, far and away, that Japan was not going to break off agressions. Who could be even only passingly familiar with the nature of the Pacific conflict and ever imagine that there was some way to negotiate or peacenik the Japanese out of what they believed to be their divine destiny.

If you get a chance, as I have had on several occasions, sit down and talk with a fundamentalist Muslim. "Peace" by definition to them means a cessation of all resistence to Islam world wide ... and it means nothing else. There is not the least crack or chink in the belief system that allows for any wavering, discussion, questioning in any form for any reason. None.

In the Ben Hur flick, Charton Heston is talking with an Arab chariot racer and the Balthazar, the fourth wise man, the latter spouts the total pacifist line and as he leaves for the night, the Arab turns to Ben Hur and says, "Balthazar is a wise man, but until all men are as Balthazar, we must keep our swords sharp and at hand."

So that leads me to the modest posit: those who are total pacifists, who decry all instances of violence and aggression even in self-defense - begin a campaign to modify our laws so that, just like those who wear the 'do not resucitate' braclets, you will declare that you do not want anyone to employ force on your behalf under any circumstances, eh? Wear some sort of distinguishing mark so people will know not to interfer and if someone attacks you, attmepts to rape you, threatens to murder you, we (police, military, neighbors, family, passers by) may try to persuade them to stop by non-violent means, but we cannot in any way interfer with them. How long do you suppose you are going to last in this world?

Pacifism is a luxury that is only afforded because OTHERS are willing to put themselves in harms way to protect you.


The beginning of that quote "on Earth Peace."

Meaning....? Do we use a window three words wide to glean teachings from the Bible? OK. How about: "thou commit adultery" Deut 5:18
Hey, this could be fun, let me see what else I can find.

voixdange said...

1. the evidence was overwhelming that the British were not about to pul up stakes in India either, but they did.
2.You're making assumptions about me because you do not know me. I am one of the very few White women who lives in my inner city neighborhood. It has a very high crime rate. I walk the street at all hours expecting no one but God to protect me. Certainly not you. Police officers in England do not carry guns.
3. Six words is somehow better than three? How about we take the Words of Christ in their entirety for our teachings about violence?

voixdange said...

And btw, the one time someone did try to attack me, I stood up so that they could get a clean shot at me. Somehow they found themselves unable to strike the intended blow.

Dan Trabue said...

Thank you all for writing so many interesting thoughts. Especially you, Sister Ange. While we may disagree on a few topics, you are one righteously tough chick.

Brother Ellie (and DocJim and others) I'll try to post more later. I will say that you can cherry pick verses from the Bible to find a defense there for warmaking.

However, take all the words of Jesus and all the Big Truths of both old and new testaments, and you will see that God is indeed, Love. That we are indeed to love God, love God's creation, love our neighbor and love our enemies. These are the biggest whoppin' Truths in the Bible. To pull the notion of War-making out of those truths is disengenous to biblical teaching.

More later.

Eleutheros said...

"Personal, private, in your home and in your heart thus remaining sacred and then not a subject to be fought over."

Of course, you are right and I agree with you. Moreover, most people would agree with you. My statements such as "If you want to prevent wars, outlaw religion" are not to be taken seriously nor as advocacy for action in that direction. Although I stand by my opinion of what would result, but the price would be too high.

Oddly the same thing could be said for articles of war (or self-defense). So long as they are personal, private, in your home they are nothing to be concerned over.

Eleutheros said...

1. (no need to requote, don't you think) The Dalai Lama gets quoted a lot during these pacifist discussions. Let's see how pacifism worked for his people and his country. The Tibetans were not facing the British, but the Chinese. From 1949 until the present, longer than the lifetime of most of us, the Tibetans have largely held peaceful protests of the Chinese occupation and abuse. As the self help Phil McGraw is wont to ask "How's that working for them?"

Having been a sovereign and independent country for more than 2000 years, Tibet was invaded by the Chinese in 1949 by 100,000 troops, Tibet, the area of the original Tibet,has about 4 million Tibetans. Each peaceful protest was met with crushing military force. In 1959 the Dalai Lama had to flee to India for his life and 80,000 Tibetans (one in ffity) followed him. By 1975 the Chinese had caused the death of 1.2 million Tibetans, a quarter of the people, had destroyed all but 11 of the 6200 monasteries, and the 11 remaining were used as indoctrination centers. Since 1975 several hundred thousand more Tibetans have died and and been tortured. Fifty-six years of peaceful, non-violent resistence. How's that working for them?
2. Police officers in England don't carry guns (although this is now changing) because of the nature of the English people who for the most part are very law abiding. No matter what sort of a place you live, potential assailants know that you MIGHT be armed, it's possible and it's quite common that people are. They also know that someone else close by might be and that the penalties if they are caught are severe. It was not a comment about you, anyone in a country where most people will defend themselves is also protected by that general proclivity.
3. The words of Christ in their entirity have been used as the basis for the Crusades, slavery, the KKK, capitalism, the conquistadors, millions of deaths in religious wars for a thousand years. They are the basis for George Bush's action in Iraq. So long as you don't mind cherry picking among the words and spinning the rest, you can come up with anything you like out of them ... including radical pacifism. Remember that it was Jesus who at Milvia also said:
"In hoc signo vinces."

Kim said...

"Since 1975 several hundred thousand more Tibetans have died and and been tortured. Fifty-six years of peaceful, non-violent resistence. How's that working for them?"

What a mean thing to say. Downright mean.

In fact, a lot of the things you say to others in their blog are meant to provoke and anger - and they are mean things to say.

Dan is one of the nicest guys I know - and I do know him, in real life and everything. He is a good writer and he does the best he can to be a good person. He has beautiful children, a great wife and keeps a good perspective on life no matter what. In fact, my husband used to work with him, and misses Dan's great smile.

And anyone with a Ganesh on their desk is cool by me.

Sorry, Dan. I've seen mean comments by a certain commenter all over my friends' blogs and my heart is hurting over it. Feel free to delete this if you want.


voixdange said...

I find it interesting E. that in order for you to perpetuate your argument you have to discredit the successful results of anyone who engages in non-violence. Whether it be Gandhi in India or me in the hood. I was a single mother on public transit with two young children, ny attacker knew full well I was unarmed. I stood up so that if he did attack me he would have a good shot and it would be less likely my children would get hurt. I made it very clear that I was not about to fight back and instead began to pray and sing praises to my Lord. Anyone looking at me would think I would be the last person on earth to bear arms. I find your arguments sad and blustering, full of negative assumptions. But all war is based on negative assumptions, so this isn't surprising to me at all. You were the first one to take one tiny portion of a phrase out of the Bible and make it a doctrine of war, cherry picker. I'm the one who said lets take the Word in its entirety.

voixdange said...

And as my final thought to you,
you said:
"By 1975 the Chinese had caused the death of 1.2 million Tibetans, a quarter of the people, had destroyed all but 11 of the 6200 monasteries, and the 11 remaining were used as indoctrination centers."

And yet we still do business with them...

Eleutheros said...

"What a mean thing to say. Downright mean."

I see. Truth = mean. Odd philosophy, that. Or are you saying that the nonviolent resistence in Tibet worked and 1.2 million people were NOT killed?

"And anyone with a Ganesh on their desk is cool by me."

Glad to hear it. There's a Ganesh right here on the desk beside me. Garuda is here too, I'll introduce you if you like.

Eleutheros said...

"I find it interesting E. that in order for you to perpetuate your argument you have to discredit the successful results of anyone who engages in non-violence."

Are you saying that non-violence DID work in Tibet?

Unlike you, Anglevox, I live in the wilds and I come across dangerous creatures all the time. If a wild dog confronts you, you dare not run. The dog will have no choice, it is hard wired to attack anything running away from it. If you come across a pit viper, you move away. It is hard wired to let alone anything retreating from it. The examples you (and I, for that matter) have given for the results of non-violence have less to do with the non-violent than those aggressing against the non-violent. Non-violence works when the aggressor has a conscience, as it is evident your attacker did, and the British in India had. It does not work when the aggressor has no conscience as was (is) the case of the Chinese in Tibet. There are sociopathic people who do not have a conscience and non-violence toward them is like running away from a wild dog. There are whole groups of people and sometimes governments whose morals have evolved to the point that they too have no conscience. Sometimes non-violence is the right response, fortunately, that's most of the time. But not all the time. Or as Jesus said, "Be ye as harmless as doves but as wary as serpents."

"I'm the one who said lets take the Word in its entirety."

There is no 'in it's entirety.' I've never yet met a Christian exegete who does not come to the holy writ with a philosophy of what they want Christianity to be and somehow the NT's entirety exactly supports their philosophy. What parts don't are .. eh ... cherry picking.

Of course I'm a cherrypicker. And believe me, I haven't overlooked anything that's in there, yet laying aside any pre-held doctrines, the one thing I do not find is an 'in its entirety.'

Unless, of course, one accepts the theory that the NT was composed by Constantine's scholars at the beginning of the 4th century. Then there does seem to be an 'in its entirety' there. Other than that, every single believer seems to come to the NT with an 'in its entirety' already in their mind before they read the first page.

"And yet we still do business with them... "
You have this right. We (collectively) do and we shouldn't and should never have. That is a significant part of my escape from Babylon. It is the only way I can not be a part of such goings on.

docjim505 said...

Hey, I'd LOVE it if the world's problems could be solved non-violently. Unfortunately, people being what they are, I'm not about to stake my personal security, the safety of my family and friends, or American national security on the belief that people like Hitler, Stalin, or bin Laden can be dealt with by gathering aroung the campfire and signing 'Kumbiyah'.

The issue at hand in this thread boils down to 'should we have dropped the Bomb?' The answer is an unequivocal 'yes'. Not only did this save many American lives, it also saved many more Japanese lives.

I fully understood the quote from the WWII bomber pilot and agree with his sentiments: if it will save the life of one American, I really don't care how many of the enemy are killed. I'm certain that Christ doesn't approve of this attitude, but there it is.

But may I pose the question: "Is there a reasonable 'exchange rate'?" What if I said I was willing to kill (or see killed) one hundred enemy rather than one American? How about ten? Five? Or should we just swap one for one and let the Red Chinese take over the world?

I thought about the case of India as an example of non-violent protest working. I would note an important factor: the British are (dare I say it?) 'civilized' and 'humane'. If they were a bit more like the Soviets or the Red Chinese, they simply would have killed Ghandi and mowed down his followers until either they ran out of ammo or the Indians gave up. Happily, the British were not so bloodthirsty.

Consider the following:

- The United States did not win independence through non-violence.

- Napoleon was not defeated through non-violence.

- Slavery was not ended In the United States by non-violence.

- The Indians did not keep out the white man through non-violence.

- The Kaiser, Hitler, Tojo and Kim Il-sung were not stopped by non-violence.

- Civil rights for the black man in America were not won by non-violence. With due respect to the Rev. Dr. King and his followers, it was the use of federal police and military force by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson that beat down the segregationists.

- The Soviets weren't kept out of Western Europe by non-violence. It was a few thousand American, British, and French nuclear missiles that kept them out.

- The Soviets weren't forced out of Afghanistan by non-violence.

- And while I'm thinking of it, the money-changers weren't put out of the Temple by non-violence.

As eleutheros points out, non-violence doesn't exactly have an inspiring track record of success.

angevoix - I admire the strength of your faith and convictions. But consider this: the attacker(s) left you alone. Did they then go and attack somebody else? Perhaps a determined rapist or mugger can always be deterred by non-violence. But I'm quite certain he can be PERMANENTLY deterred by a couple of 45-cal holes in his head.

Kim - I'm sure Dan is a very nice fellow. In my brief experience with him, I've found his comments thoughtful and well-expressed even when I don't agree with them. I don't think anybody here is trying to be mean.

voixdange said...

the British are (dare I say it?) 'civilized' and 'humane'.

Excuse me? Apparently you have never heard of the Amritsar Massacre? Or the countless other cruelties that the people of India were subjected to under British rule. My sons are Indo-Americans. Colonialism is occupation with the added bonus of slavery and the rape of the natural resources of the country in which it takes place. It is dehuamnizing and out and out theft.
Britain got out of India for the same reason that the civil rights leaders were successful in the U.S.
The leaders of both non-violent movements by their actions embarrassed the governments of the UK and the US into behaving as if they actually had a modicum of decency by holding them up to the scrutiny of the rest of the world.

Your assertion that Britain is a "civilized" nation is disturbing and implies an attitude of cultural superiority that is down right racist. Indian civilization, as with Persian civilization, as with Arab civilization is thousands of years old. As opposed to Western "civilization" which is merely a few hundred.

voixdange said...

And my very final thought to both E & Doc. I have proven that I am willing to die for my beliefs. How about you? When I hear that either one of you has enlisted, then we'll talk further. Until then, don't send my sons to die.

Eleutheros said...

Enlist? Ha! I'm almost twenty years beyond the oldest enlistment age.

And as to your sons, the last time I checked it was an all volunteer armed forces in this country.

Die for one's beliefs? What does that mean? My beliefs (what few I have) are just ideas. You are going to die for an idea? It is my sacred duty to protect my family, my neighbors, and others I see being harmed. For that I would die. More importantly, for that I would live. And yet more important still, I'd kill for it.

docjim505 said...

Sergeant, North Carolina Army National Guard, 1990 - 1996. Good enough?

"Britain got out of India for the same reason that the civil rights leaders were successful in the U.S.
The leaders of both non-violent movements by their actions embarrassed the governments of the UK and the US into behaving as if they actually had a modicum of decency by holding them up to the scrutiny of the rest of the world."

Thank you for making my point. IF the UK had been 'uncivilized' enough that they could not be shamed, there would have been piles of dead Indians in the streets and Gandhi would have been assassinated or executed in a prison somewhere, as the Soviets did in Hungary in 1956.

As for your playing of the racism card... Never mind. It's not worth commenting.

Dan Trabue said...

Docjim said:
"As for your playing of the racism card..."

One reason you and others cite for Gandhi's peaceful efforts success is: The British weren't savages, they had morals, their religion wouldn't have stood for it...stuff like that.

One reason you said it won't work today is because:
"These people" are savages, they don't have morals, their religion is bloodthirsty...

These comments are, if not racist, at least classist. They're stating that this group of people over there are totally lacking in humanity and we people over here have humanity. How ELSE can you define these sorts of statements?

But not only are these comments classist and/or racist, they're illogical. It assumes a whole group of people are one way and we all know that can't be. Thanks for writing, but let's try to consider one another's statements - and our own - before we rush to defend what ought not to be defended (and I know that's easy to do...speaking from experience).

docjim505 said...

Flip the card over: are you implying that the British as a group are NOT 'civilized'?

No matter. I did not and nor was I trying to make an invidious comparison between the British and anybody else. I stand by my statement that the British are 'civilized', i.e. they have some basic respect for law and human rights. Are they saints? No. Did they do some pretty despicable things during the period of Imperial India? Sure.

My point is that Gandhi was able to get away with 'non-violence' because the British are sufficiently 'civilized' that they weren't prepared to use overwhelming force to destroy the Indian nationalist movement.

By playing the racist / classist / ethnocentric card, both you and angievoix have completely ducked the substance of my argument. Let me ask: do you believe that Gandhi's non-violent efforts would have succeeded against, say, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or even the British at another, less 'civilized' point in their history? Or would there simply have been heaps of Indian bodies in the streets?

Now, on the subject of stereotyping, it's natural for people to do it. I'd even say that it's inescapable. It helps us make some sense of the world. Do I believe that ALL Britons are like little paper dolls, each identical to the next? Of course not. But there are certain traits of the British that I belive are predominant among them, including a basic respect for law and order a general lack of 'bloodthirstiness'. Hence, I repeat my assertion that Gandhi was successful in a campaign of non-violence against them where he would not have been successful against the people / government of another country.

voixdange said...

Flip the card over: are you implying that the British as a group are NOT 'civilized'?

I do not equate technology and the external trappings of materialism as evidence of civilization. No society that engages in colonization, occupation and opression of the masses in any form is civilized. Being of Scotch Irish decent and having two Indo - American sons, and knowing the scope of the atrocities the British enacted on the people of both Ireland and and India, no I do not consider them civilized. Nor do I consider a society that perpetuated racism through the use of Jim Crow Laws and turned a blind eye to countless lynchings civilized. And I make no bones about it. You are sorely downplaying the behavior of both countries which have appalling records of human rights violations especially towards minorities even to this day.

docjim505 said...

Wow. You've labeled an entire nation (well, four, actually: English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish) as 'uncivilized'. Oops, sorry: that's FIVE uncivilized nations, because you threw in us Americans. I can only presume that you'd also include the Dutch, Germans, French, Belgians, Danes, Italians, Spanish, Portugese, Chinese, Japanese, Turks, and Russians. Oh, and the Greeks, Egyptians, Arabs, and Argentinians. I realize that they're not around, but I suppose we'd better throw in the Romans and Mongols. Huns. Vandals. Vikings. Israelites...

Glad you could join me in the Democratic People's Republic of Sterotypia.

I'm vaguely curious what nations you would consider 'civilized' and by what criteria (I certainly didn't mention technological achievement or materials wealth as my criteria, though I suppose some people use them). I mean, is there ANY nation on earth that, at some time in its history, HASN'T been rotten to another?

I also note that you have still not answered my original argument: would Gandhi's program of non-violent protest have worked against a more bloodthirsty or despotic regime such as the nazis, Stalin, etc?

voixdange said...

Have you looked into Armritsar? Hello?

You have proven my point for me. No I do not beleive that any one society can claim to be more civilized than another as they have all at one time or another committed atrocities against others.

voixdange said...

And as for your accusations of Stereotyping. You need to check the definition again. Stereotyping is a fixed conventional notion or conception as of a fixed group or person allowing for no individuality. I know that all of the individuals living in Britain don't think as Tony Blair, Just as know I don't think like George Bush. Did you know that Lynchings in the Southern UNITED STATES were attended by tens of thousands of people, who brought their children and a picnic lunch to the event? Did you know that they took photos of the events and made them into post cards and mailed them to their relatives in celebration of what they had done?
Slaves in this nation were treated worse than cattle.And I speak as one whose ancestors owned slaves.I grew up on a farm and I know that any farmer worth his/her salt takes good care of their animals. They are fed well and housed properly. slaves were treated to abuses that defy imagination. And yes, to downplay their pain and the horror of what they endured is racist. During the civil rights movement the police set the dogs on children kneeling praying in the street. The dogs had more decency than their keepers and refused to attack. Between the history of British colonialism and the U.S. history of slavery this nation has no right to claim moral superiority and call anyone else blood thirsty.

voixdange said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

voixdange said...

Oh yes... and that's just what they did to African Americans. I haven't even mentioned what we did to the Native Americans...
Yes, we are entitled to be the authors of a universal moral code....RIGHT!

docjim505 said...

Boy, this has REALLY gotten far afield.

Yes, I am quite aware of the mistreatment of black Americans during the periods of slavery, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. In one case that I am aware of, some sickos actually sold pieces of the victim in Atlanta shops after the lynching.

As horrible as that is, I fail to see what it has to do with the present subject. I don't recall mentioning black Americans at all, much less trying to downplay what they have suffered in the 400 year history of America.

I have asked repeatedly whether or not you believe that Gandhi's program of non-violence would have been successful against another nation / regime such as those of Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot. I wait for an answer.

Meantime, you stated your belief that the United States and Great Britain are not 'civilized' because of colonialism and slavery. I replied that, by identical standards, many other countries are similarly 'uncivilized'. You appear to agree.

But where does that leave us? That all nations are 'uncivilized'? If so, then are some less 'uncivilized' than others? Or would you assert that, for example, Nazi Germany and Canada are / were morally equivalent? How about India and the ante bellum American South? What defines a 'civilized' nation, anyway?

Further, if you recognize that not all people in a given country / race have identical beliefs, then how can a country be condemned as 'uncivilized' (or, for that matter, praised as 'civilized') at all? If there were Britons who would happily oppress and gun down Indians or Zulus for Queen and Empire, were there also not those who recoiled at such violence being done in their name? If there were Americans who owned slaves and happily abused them or beat them to death, were there not others who passionately fought for abolition? If you condemn the United States as 'uncivilized', do you not simultaneously and equally condemn both the slaveholder and the abolitionist, or the KKK member and the civil rights worker?

Britain eventually withdrew (albeit reluctantly) from India. Slavery was ended in the United States after a very bloody Civil War; indeed, slavery was then outlawed by Constitutional amendment. Jim Crow was finally destroyed about 100 years later. SOMEBODY must have been 'civilized' to do these things, don't you think? In the present day, I don't think you'd find very many Britons at all who would like to reestablish the Raj, nor would you find many Americans who want to bring back slavery or Jim Crow. Does this not indicate that we have become less 'uncivilized'?

I appreciate your distaste for violence and oppression. The world would be a better place if there were more people like you. However, there aren't. Because there aren't - in fact, because there are FAR more people who are vicious, greedy, and bloodthirsty - I do not believe in non-violence either for my own personal safety, and certainly not for the safety of my country.

voixdange said...

"I have asked repeatedly whether or not you believe that Gandhi's program of non-violence would have been successful against another nation / regime such as those of Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot. I wait for an answer."

I have answered your question at least twice by citing both Amritsar and Lynchings in the U.S.My point being that our "regimes" are as
equally capable of the same horrendous crimes against humanity as those you listed. Sorry you missed it, not once but twice.

As for calling people uncivilized,may I quote you?
"I thought about the case of India as an example of non-violent protest working. I would note an important factor: the British are (dare I say it?) 'civilized' and 'humane'."
You are the one who stated that the British are civilized and Humane, thereby implying that other societies are less humane than they. My point was that they are not, and to downplay the intense suffering that they have caused oppressed
peoples by stating that it is somehow less evil than the Nazis, or anyone else is Whitewashing history. Our history. So since YOU are the one who first claimed to be the bearer of the standard of what is a "civilized" country... and that I am unfairly calling everyone within the U.S. and Britain uncivilized,
why don't you answer your own question:
"What defines a 'civilized' nation, anyway?"
Are all Saudis Ben Ladin?
Are All Persians Muslim Extremist?
Are all Iraqi's terrorist?

I end with your own quote:
Further, if you recognize that not all people in a given country / race have identical beliefs, then how can a country be condemned as 'uncivilized' (or, for that matter, praised as 'civilized') at all?

Who are YOU saying is Uncivilized?

Dan Trabue said...

DocJim asked:
"Do you believe that Gandhi's program of non-violence would have been successful against a Hitler?"

Define success.

I believe that non-violent direct action would have been at least as successful as warmaking. Do I believe that either solution would result in zero deaths? No. People would have quite likely died by using NVDA. But people died using warmaking.

One difference is that we would not have partaken in evil in order to stop evil and that, for some of us, is an important notion.

As to Angevoix's pointing out of the civilization (or lack thereof) of us all, I think you're missing the point. I'd suggest it would be helpful to stop responding by saying the same things over and listen to what she/I am saying.

She is saying that all have sinned, to put it in religous terms. You and others suggested that you can't reason with "them" (Hitlers, terrorists, etc) because they are not reasonable.

You're suggesting a whole block of people can't be addressed in the same way as the Brits, as we can. We're saying that "they" are neither more nor less human than we are.

This is not afield from the topic at hand inasmuch as many will argue that there are some peoples that can't be reasoned with.

And I hate to drag this on, but I feel compelled to say that when I talk about reasoning with people, I do not mean that we and Hitler could have picnicked together, talked our problems out and skipped away.

Non-violent DA speaks in terms of finding what or who can influence the person/group from whom you want change and taking the power there. As Eleutheros pointed out, Hitler can only work if he has soldiers, money and support. The NV resister asks, how can we stop the money, withdraw the support and pull the soldiers to our side?

Is it a perfect solution? No. But as you've admitted, neither is war. And NVDA allows us to live up to our belief system while fighting evil.

It is estimated that some 30-60 million people died in WWII. We don't know how many might have died or not by using NVDA, but I ask you again, how do you define "success?"

voixdange said...

Thank you Dan.

I am afraid I am going to have to step off this toxic merry-go-round of circular logic.

voixdange said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

voixdange said...

You are your own best evidence for your argument that some people can't be reasoned with....

To make it very clear to you since you claim to have missed it for the THIRD time. So sorry I will type slower the next time.
Y-E-S is that spelled out enough for you?
Have fun providing your own answers. I look to the Word of God for mine.

Now I am, as I said exiting the toxic merry-go round of circular logic for the final time.

That means good Bye Doc.

Eleutheros said...

"Have fun providing your own answers. I look to the Word of God for mine."

I'm caught so completely off balance by this, I have to ask. In general, not just to Anglevox.

I have more than a passing acquaintence with the Writ and I'm wondering where one finds NVDA in there.

The Old Testament is full of blood and aggression at the behest of God. People like to quote the "takes up the sword shall perish by the sword" quote, but what was the background of it? On the surface when Peter cut off the ear of the servant of those coming to arrest Jesus. Fine. Where did Peter get the sword? Read the 22nd chapter of Luke closely. Just before Gethsemene, Jesus told the apostles to arm themselves. Peter had the sword because Jesus told him to be packing when they went out later that night.

It's the thing that baffles me beyond comprehension about some forms of Christianity. People want to be more pure and righteous than their own Deity. Jesus drives out the money changers and tells the apostles to arm themselves, but people want to do God one better, sort of out-God God and say that violent acts are always wrong. Just as God has said that He created certain animals with the express purpose in mind that they be eaten, and yet people want to out-compassion the Almighty and say they are too full of love to harm the animal. Don't get it, I just don't get it.

Anyway we get on down to the end times and what we are to expect:

"And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:"

Destroy? Consume? Why, just as you would do in the face of Hitler or Pol Pot, does't He use NVDA? If it works so well in all cases for us mere mortals, why isn't Jesus planning on using it?

"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

What? Why no persuading them to give up being evil no matter what the cost or how long it takes? You mean God can't find that Non-Violent Direct Action in this case?

This is no cherrypicking. It is what the Word of God says will happen to those who do not submit to what is written in it. That is, the gist of existence itself is that if you don't comply, you are going to be destroyed in some pretty nasty ways.

Setting oneself up as more righteous than God used to be viewed as blasphemy. Things have changed, I suppose.

docjim505 said...


Ah, you finally gave me a straight, unequivocal answer without gratuitous swipes at the United States, Great Britain, and really every other country (past and present) on the face of the earth. I knew that, if I simply hung in there, you could do it.

I'm glad that you finally grasped my point that some people can't be reasoned with. Now, if you think *I* am unreasonable, how in the WORLD do you think a REALLY aggressive person / nation is going to be dissuaded from taking what he / they want?


Your point about the Bible and NVDA is interesting. However, despite my firm belief in OVOA (Overwhelmingly Violent Offensive Action), I believe that Christ does not want us to kill one another. As He says in the Sermon on the Mount, 'blessed are the peacemakers'. He also tells us to turn the other cheek.

In 1 Peter, we are told to obey government; slaves are told to obey their masters, even if the master is cruel:

"For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God."

I suppose that an argument could be made (indeed, some churches DO make it) that the Christian should not resist violence directed at him; it is blessed to suffer and die in obedience to the Lord.

This being said, many (if not most) Protestant churches as well as the Roman Catholic Church teach that their members may particpate in war, though there are some churches such as the Quakers and Anabaptists who teach the opposite.

My feeling is that Christ doesn't exactly look with favor on members of His flock trying to kill each other. I suppose that the best we can do is hope and pray for His holy guidance for our nation, that we may never have to engage in war. However, we also pray for His help that, should we have to engage in war, our cause will be just, that He will bless our arms with success, and forgive us for what we must do to win and reestablish the peace.

Eleutheros said...

You know, though, all that 'suffering quietly for the sake of God' can't help but raise an eyebrow of suspicion. Doesn't it strike you as awfully convenient that governments, industry, and the wealthy have some advantage in promoting the idea that it's your Godly duty to just suffer quietly if people (like the government, industry, and the wealthy) are abusing you? After all, Desmond Tutu doesn't stay at the Motel 6 when he travels, now does he?

Another thing that muddies the water of such discussions is when the radical pacifist, such as your erstwhile disputant on this thread, puts all people who are not radical pacifists into the same box. That is, if you are not a radical pacifist, you are FOR war.

That's the same sort of meritless conclusion that the 'right-to-life' hurl at the 'pro-choice', that they are FOR abortions. No one in their right mind is FOR abortions. They don't go around saying "Let's get as many women pregnant as we can so we can have more abortions."

A person with a compromised tooth doesn't mean they are FOR fillings, as many fillings as one can have. Neither are people who have to employ force in order that the least overall harm be done FOR war.

docjim505 said...

I admit that I'm not exactly keen on suffering quietly for anybody, but I think it's clearly our Christian duty to suffer for God if He so wills it. Whether we've got the strength to do it - and what He would think if we chose NOT to - are other questions. Let's be grateful that Christ didn't put aside HIS burden, though he could have done so at any point.

It's not easy to have debates between people who are passionately attached to opposing ideas. The temptation to get into name-calling, taking offense where none is intended, making unwarranted assumptions about the other person's worldview, and smearing with a broad brush are very great and hard to avoid.

Dan Trabue said...

A couple of short points on the Bible and NVDA (as discussed in the previous two posts):

The Sermon on the Mount gives us volumes of thought on the topic, if we have ears to hear. As do the OT prophets.

For a fuller explanation of the concept, check out Walter Wink's writings:

Glen Stassen and John Howard Yoder are great resources, as well. Read any of their stuff and learn.

Briefly, Wink talks about Jesus being a champion of the Third Way.

If someone strikes you on the cheek, don't cower in fear AND don't strike back BUT INSTEAD, face them and turn the other cheek.

Ellie, many of us think that Jesus was killed exactly because his third way was a threat to those in power, the very groups you're suggesting that Christians are suggesting we roll over for.

Eleutheros said...


"If someone strikes you on the cheek, don't cower in fear AND don't strike back BUT INSTEAD, face them and turn the other cheek."

I will check out your sources and see what they have to say to see if there's anything 'novum sub sole' in there. Might be, willing to take a look.

What has been pointed out by many is this: the nature of 'turn the other cheek' is the response to bullying which is not life threatening. In fact, in the scheme of things it's quite petty. So what if someone strikes you on the cheek! Not worth letting it escalate. Same with the other two bits of advice in that three-pack: If anyone takes away your cloak, let him have your coat also (i.e. if anyone takes your jacket, let him have your shirt too). and If anyone compels you to go with him a mile, go with him two.

Slap on the cheek, lose your jacket, go a mile. Nothing in the scheme of things. Not only not worth fighting for, not even worth taking offense over.

But there is no teaching there that if someone threatens to rape your child, you offer him the other child too. Not even so far as to say that if they want to burn down you house, you bring the car around so they can burn that too. Jesus' examples are about petty things.

So in light of that, I've got to ask the next logical question. If I have the pacifist point of view correctly, the belief is that God will protect you if He wants you protected, and if you are not protected, that's His will, so be it, amen. Do we not also find in the Sermon on the Mount the teaching that God will provide our food and clothes. If we are not to rise to our own defense because God will take care of us, why, in the light of the SotM do we go to the garden and go to work because it clearly teaches that God will provide those things.

Dan Trabue said...

Excellent questions, all, Eleutheros. While it may not exactly be your point, this is exactly what I think we need to do: Read the hard teachings of Jesus and wonder what he meant instead of reading the hard teachings of Jesus and assuming it was some sort of allegory (funny how many biblical literalists tend to spiritualize all the tougher teachings and literalize relatively minor points in the Bible).

I've posted one of Wink's essays on this in my blog, but to answer briefly: These weren't petty little points. It was about standing up to the oppression and rape of a whole people and exactly NOT allowing the wrong to continue. We DO rise to our own defense. But we do so non-violently.

Similarly with the food issue. We're to take steps to take care of our needs, but we are to do so in a manner that does not partake in an inherently violent, unjust and oppressive system. From what I've read from you here and at your blog, I think you agree with this notion when it comes to food and “stuff.” We NVDA folk believe this as well for the concept of defense. We're not partaking in an unjust system, but instead are about finding a Third Way. Are you sure you're not buying in to Babylon on this point?

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