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Pacifism and Violence - Term Paper Example

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Pacifism and Violence

Pacifists seek long life proactive moral commitment in their nonviolent moral commitment (Gould, 2010). Pacifists try their best to avoid war where it is warranted and even in the case of self defense. The critics of pacifisms have termed them as cowards because they fear violence and physical engagement in seeking justice and peace (Gould, 2010). On the other hand, those who seek violence in promoting justice argue that war is inevitable, and that peace is preceded by war. They argue that peace attained after war has value because it has costed lives. Western tradition and other civilizations have termed heroic courage which leads to violence as an embodiment of moral strength and, thus, as central to morality (Cheyney, 1994). In this essay, I argue that pacifism and violence are depended on the situation one is in and while it should be the last option; the extremes of both can lead to no moral commitment. The pacifists On 31st March 1968, the US President Lyndon Johnson delivered a historic speech ‘On Vietnam and Not Seeking Reelection’ (Lyndon, 1968). The speech was a response to the American concern about his mounting escalation on the bombardment of the northern Vietnam. The Americans were against the government’s decision to bomb North Vietnam in February 1965, and they were advocating for peaceful negotiations instead of violence. Most critics of President Lyndon and political analysis held that, at the time, the support of the war had seen popular and political erosion. In 1965, Alice Hertz had burned herself in protest against the Vietnam War, and she sacrificed her life so that the war might be stopped (Cheyney, 1994). In the same year, an ardent pacifist, Norman Morrison, traveled to Washington and burned himself to death at the Pentagon to protest against the escalation of Vietnam War (Sallie, 2000). On May 16, 1967, Nhat Chi Mai, allay disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh, burned herself to death outside Tu Nghiem temple in an effort to compel the US government to deescalate Vietnam War (Sallie, 2000). She wrote a letter to the US government stating that she offered her body as a torch to waken love among men and give peace to Vietnam (Sallie, 2000). These are just few examples of pacifists who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam war, and the first was the venerable Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc who acted by burning himself to death on June 11, 1963, for the same cause (Sallie, 2000). For ages, it seems that pacifists are ready to give the ultimate sacrifice to pacify violence and seek peaceful options for conflict resolution. At this point, it will be somehow difficult to agree with Gould (2010) when he holds “…pacifists still suffers under the shadow of cowardice” (p. 19). The moral commitment in sacrificing oneself for the sake of others is valid provided the act is intended to awaken the humanity in the combating parties. However, Gould is right to argue that by placing themselves in the way of harm, these pacifists erode their moral commitment. Sometimes, their action bears no fruits and the war continues without them. At this point, there is no one to advocate for peaceful negotiations or de-escalation of violence. With regard to the pacifists actions demonstrated above, Gandhi in his contribution about Satyagraha asked: “Wherein is courage required? In blowing others to pieces from behind a cannon, or with a smiling face to ...Show more


Date Pacifism and Violence Pacifism and violence have for a long time been viewed in the light of two mutually exclusive terms. My point is that in the world where promoting justice and preventing war is dear to the hearts of people, pacifism and violence are inevitable entities…
Author : dianafahey
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