The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

War is Always Evil

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.”
Jimmy Carter

You really seem to love throwing up this example. To answer your question, WWII was probably the only “justifiable” war in human history, and even that is debatable. At any rate, I don’t know what I would have done. But my inability to answer the question does not obviate the lessons that great spiritual leaders have tried to teach us over the generations. It does, however, illustrate how difficult it is to deal with general issues of human conflict.

That such issues are difficult does not imply that the “easier” solutions, based on violence, are the morally correct or good ones. It is human nature to go for the easy or obvious way out, but the obvious is not always right. As history teaches us relentlessly, violent solutions, i.e., war, exact a high price. It is always debatable whether the price would be higher by pursuing a peaceful solution. Gandhi would have had much to say about this, I’m sure. He exemplified the peaceful approach but it has not been embraced by the world at large. I wonder if this is because we have not had enough examples to support it, and to strengthen our faith in it.

The world is trapped by its fear of failure, by its lack of faith and imagination. What if the peaceful approach doesn’t work? What if we can’t uncover the practical means to make it work? We could open ourselves to total destruction. This is the fear, the fear that we may not know what we are doing.

(The fear is also that a peaceful solution has costs. But would these costs be higher than in war? And what if the costs are higher? Does that make war a better solution? Is this how we measure success – by how economical it is in terms of lives lost? What about the cost in terms of our spirituality? The sickness in our world stems from our belief that physical survival trumps spiritual survival.)

We feel comfortable with war because it is something we understand; we know how to wage war – the practical means are well-understood. Innumerable tomes have been written about warfare. We know it can work because we have seen it work time after time in the countless wars of human history. Military victory is measurable in the material sense. We can see it, touch it, smell it. It is real. But we don’t realize that there is a spiritual cost.

What if we could make peaceful solutions work? This was the question I posed earlier. How would we know that violence is the better way? Without more examples of peaceful solutions in human history (and they are depressingly few in number), we cannot answer this question.

In the end, we have to have the courage to try, to take a leap of faith. We have to believe in the goodness of human beings. We may be disappointed. We may fail. But the alternative, that of violence, is not free of disappointment and failure either. Violence is simply something we know, and know too well.


On 3/23/06 11:36 AM, "Sobotic Research" wrote:

And so I ask you again: How would you have dealt with Hitler?


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