I was having a conversation recently about active pacifism. Pacifism is a Quaker value I have been convinced of (yeah this is sort of a Quaker post).
I don’t think many people really understand true pacifism. It is not standing still after a punch to the face. True pacifism is anything but passive.
I am a huge fan of the late Utah Phillips. If you don’t know his work you should look it up. He was an anarchist, pacifist historian in the oral tradition so there aren’t really books to read. The easy way to access his material is thru the spoken history albums Ani DiFranco made.
Below is an excerpt from this article. I think a lot of people can relate to this.
Ammon came up to me one day, and said, “You have a lot of anger in you, and you act out, you mouth off, and you wind up getting in fights, into brawls, here in the house, and you’re not any good at it. You’re the one who keeps getting pushed through the door, and I’m tired of fixing the damn thing. You’ve got to become a pacifist.”
And I asked, “What is it?” He said, “Well, I could give you a book by Gandhi, but you wouldn’t understand it.”
He said, “You have to look at your capacity for violence the same way. You are going to have to learn to confess it, and learn how to deal with it in every situation every day, for the rest of your life, because it is not going to go away.” And I was able to lay all of that down.
I didn’t know what exhausted me emotionally until that moment, and I realized that the experience of being a soldier, with unlimited license for excess, excessive violence, excessive sex, was a blueprint for self-destruction. Because then I began to wake up to the idea that manhood, as passed onto me by my father, my scoutmaster, my gym instructor, my army sergeant, that vision of manhood was a blueprint for self-destruction and a lie, and that was a burden that I was no longer able to carry. It was too difficult for me to be that hard. I said, “OK, Ammon, I will try that.”
He said, "You came into the world armed to the teeth. With an arsenal of weapons, weapons of privilege, economic privilege, sexual privilege, racial privilege. You want to be a pacifist, you’re not just going to have to give up guns, knives, clubs, hard, angry words, you are going to have lay down the weapons of privilege and go into the world completely disarmed."