I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a method of settling international disputes.
– Douglas MacArthur
I have previously written about whether or not I would enlist if I had been the right age during a national tragedy. One important fact about myself I ignored is the fact is that in reality I am a pacifist. Now before people stop reading or start emailing me threats let me explain. Explain, except I’m not sure how to. I’ll tell you my history then the facts of pacifism and how I fit in there.
Yes, I hate violence. Witnessing it has made me physically ill. The thesauraus (always my first stop) lists non-violent, passive, and non-belligerent. I guess not-violent fits.
I grew up on a farm, death (at least of animals) is not stranger to me. When I left home little by little I became more sensitive. Yet, I was in the punk scene, so I saw many fights. Instead of getting used to them they started to really upset me. Why were they fighting in most cases? In most cases it was because they were coming from different sides of Los Angeles, or the wrong color shoe laces, hair cut, jacket, you name it they fought about it.
I wanted to see the bands so I learned to find corners to hide in, and my friends would find me when the show was over or in a few cases when someone had a gun.
A year or so later I moved to Sacramento. I was listening to less punk and more and more folk music (yeah, big change it would seem but if you really look at lyrics they’re not that different). I jumped into the music scene with both feet. All types of music. I loved the rush. I loved the feeling of giving 300 kids in a smallish city music they might not otherwise hear. Eventually a rule was made. Everyone knew I could care of anything except fights for the most part one of the bouncers or other workers knew where I was. If a fight broke out, within seconds someone grabbed me and had me protected from seeing it. It’s nice being the boss.
Then there were movies. I never really paid attention to the excessive amount of violence in them. We have become desensitized to it.
On night in 1991 my boyfriend and another friend of ours went to the drive in to see Boyz in the Hood and Terminator 2 (yes, odd combination) Boyz was first. Now, one quick note – all three of us had shaved head, no reason, no affiliation. I was always bleaching the hell out of my hair coloring it pink, purple, fire engine red. It would get straw like so I would shave it off. In fact last summer at 36 just for the heck of it I shaved it, its just hair! I digress. The average person had no way of knowing we weren’t skinheads, but would skinheads have come to see Boyz in the Hood? During the intermission an African American man opened our car door accidentally looked us over. A few minutes later the cars all around us started honking their horns. When Terminator started the honking stopped.
So, first was not only an extremely violent movie but a racially charged one. Now we were watching a pure violent movie. The two boys I was with were a little freaked about the honking but didn’t see how the movie’s violence had anything to do with it and wouldn’t leave. I spent the rest of the night in fetal position. For the next week or so I kept playing violent scenes through until I couldn’t take it anymore.
Since then (1991) I have only paid to see two movies with violence – one just last month. That doesn’t mean I haven’t seen any. If I’m at my parent’s house I’m not going to tell them what they can and can’t watch. Of course half the time its something like Alligator III (my dad is addicted to the Sci-Fi channel). I have also had to watch violent movies for school, and that has been torturous. But, I’m not going to be that student who makes a fuss about that kind of thing I just kind of meditate. Now that I go to school online I can fake it. But, I think I got caught basing a paper on a synopsis last term.
Sometimes I hate this part of my psyche yet there are others I’m rather proud..
So am I a pacifist? I believe in non-violence. I don’t think we should be in Iraq. Do not get me wrong. I 100% support our troops in terms of the men and women. One of my best friends will be there soon (again). I care about their well-being.
I’ve been doing research with little help. Yes, obviously I have the internet; most of what I find is either negative or patronizing. So I wanted to find a few books. I forgot where I live. Our library had some ancient books on Gandhi (yes, the first person I should go to for advice), the rest were collections of essays of people like Joan Baez (who I know was at the forefront in the 60’s & 70’s and I love her music, but she is a little daisies and peasant dresses for me right now)
I don’t eat granola for breakfast, I’m not a vegan Yes, and I am against war for the most part. I wish it just didn’t exist, but I know it does. And, unfortunately we are in one right now that we’ll be in for quite awhile.
To wage a war for a purely moral reason is as absurd as to ravish a woman for a purely moral reason.
– H.L. Mencken