Every time I think about the concept of pacifism, as well as the concept and reality of war, I have to put everything in terms of ideal versus the real world.  Every time I speak of pacifism I must preface the statement with the word, “Ideally”.  If I forget that very important part of the statement, I am written off as a hopeless, peace-loving hippie and my opinion means nothing.

            Truth, absolute or otherwise, cannot always be put in terms of black and white.  The more I learn about history, current affairs, philosophy, even mathematics and science; I see that very little is black and white.  Almost every question people wrestle with in their lives belongs in the middle, the gray.  Problems arise only when people try to solve the gray problems with a black and white answer, instead of discovering a new shade of gray.  I began this journey thinking of pacifism as a black and white question; now I understand that pacifism belongs in a shade of gray.

            When I began this journey in understanding pacifism, I believed that all war was wrong, no matter what the case.  I believed all things could be solved by communication.  Ideally, I still believe this.  However, I have come to understand that this idea does not work for everyone, and if this idea does not work for everyone, then sometimes war will happen.  I will concede that a person cannot make a blanket decision about war, but must confront each situation as the situation arises.

            I do not believe the concept of war as just, but I understand that some situations require governments to go to war.  I believe that war is for governments and militaries, not individuals.  If a person is a pacifist, the person should never become a part of a government or military, so that person will not have to make any kind of just war decision.

            I do not believe the concept of holy war.  All individuals have free will.  To eradicate holy war, all that needs to happen would be to eliminate theocratic government and the hopes of theocratic government.  Only when a religion is the law is holy war ever an option.  If theocracies were to dissipate, I believe people would never have to confront the idea of holy war as a part of reality.

            As a pacifist I must understand that others do not believe what I do, and that their opinion of pacifism is just as valid as mine.  I believe a part of pacifism is the ability to understand differing opinions and never consider another person or another opinion as an enemy.  Pacifism can be a reality by implementing the principles of pacifism in our every day interactions.  Respect one another as equals, respect one another’s opinions as valid, and remember that all people are God’s love children and we will not wish war on one another.

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