By Joan Baez
Fred: OK. So you’re a pacifist. What would you do if someone were, say, attacking your grandmother?
Joan: Attacking my poor old grandmother?
Fred: Yeah, you’re in a room with your grandmother and there’s a guy about to attack her and you’re standing there. What would you do?
Joan: I’d yell, “Three cheers for Grandma!” and leave the room.”
Fred: No, seriously. Say he had a gun and he was about to shoot her. Would you shoot him first?
Joan: Do I have a gun?
Joan: No. I’m a pacifist, I don’t have a gun.
Fred: Well, I say you do.
Joan: All right. Am I a good shot?
Joan: I’d shoot the gun out of his hand.
Fred: No, then you’re not a good shot.
Joan: I’d be afraid to shoot. Might kill Grandma.
Fred: Come on, OK, look. We’ll take another example. Say, you’re driving a truck. You’re on a narrow road with a sheer cliff on your side. There’s a little girl sitting in the middle of the road. You’re going too fast to stop. What would you do?
Joan: I don’t know. What would you do?
Fred: I’m asking you. You’re the pacifist.
Joan: Yes, I know. All right, am I in control of the truck?
Joan: How about if I honk my horn so she can get out of the way?
Fred: She’s too young to walk. And the horn doesn’t work.
Joan: I swerve around to the left of her since she’s not going anywhere.
Fred: No, there’s been a landslide.
Joan: Oh. Well then, I would try to drive the truck over the cliff and save the little girl.
Fred: Well, say there’s someone else in the truck with you. Then what?
Joan: What’s my decision have to do with my being a pacifist?
Fred: There’s two of you in the truck and only one little girl.
Joan: Someone once said if you have a choice between a real evil and a hypothetical evil, always take the real one.
Joan:: I said, why are you so anxious to kill off all the pacifists?
Fred: I’m not. I just want to know what you’d do if…
Joan: If I was in a truck with a friend driving very fast on a one-lane road approaching a dangerous impasse where a ten-month old girl is sitting in the middle of the road with a landslide on one side of her and a sheer drop-off on the other.
Fred: That’s right.
Joan: I would probably slam on the brakes, thus sending my friend through the windscreen, skid into the landslide, run over the little girl, sail off the cliff and plunge to my own death. No doubt Grandma’s house would be at the bottom of the ravine and the truck would crash through her roof and blow up in her living room where she was finally being attacked for the first, and last, time.
Fred: You haven’t answered my question. You’re just trying to get out of it…
Joan: - I’m really trying to say a couple of things. One is that no one knows what they’ll do in a moment of crisis and hypothetical questions get hypothetical answers. I’m also hinting that you’ve made it impossible for me to come out of the situation without having killed one or more people. Then you say, ‘Pacifism is a nice idea, but it won’t work’. But that’s not what bothers me.
Fred: What bothers you?
Joan: Well, you might not like it because it’s not hypothetical.
It’s real. And it makes the assault on Grandma look like a garden party.
Fred: What’s that?
Joan: I’m thinking about how we put people through a training process so they’ll find out the really good, efficient ways of killing. Nothing incidental like trucks and landslides. Just the opposite, really. You know, how to growl and yell, kill and crawl and jump out of airplanes. Real organized stuff. Hell, you have to be able to run a bayonet through Grandma’s middle.
Fred: That’s something entirely different.
Joan: Sure. And don’t you see it’s much harder to look at, because its real, and it’s going on right now? Look. A general sticks a pin into a map. A week later a bunch of young boys are sweating it out in a jungle somewhere, shooting each other’s arms and legs off, crying, praying and losing control of their bowels. Doesn’t it seem stupid to you?
Fred: Well, you’re talking about war.
Joan: Yes, I know. Doesn’t it seem stupid to you?
Fred: What do you do instead, then? Turn the other cheek, I suppose.
Joan: No. Love thine enemy but confront his evil. Love thine enemy. Thou shalt not kill.
Fred: Yeah, and look what happened to him.
Joan: He grew up.
Fred: They hung him on a damn cross is what happened to him. I don’t want to get hung on a damn cross.
Joan: You won’t.
Joan: I said you don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you are going to live. Now.
Fred: Well, I’m not going to go letting everybody step all over me, that’s for sure.
Joan: Jesus said, “Resist not evil.” The pacifist says just the opposite. He says to resist evil with all your heart and with all your mind and body until it has been overcome.
Fred: I don’t get it.
Joan: Organized nonviolent resistance. Gandhi. He organized the Indians for nonviolent resistance and waged nonviolent war against the British until he’d freed India from the British Empire. Not bad for a first try, don’t you think?
Fred: yeah, fine, but he was dealing with the British, a civilized people. We’re not.
Joan: Not a civilized people?
Fred: Not dealing with a civilized people. You just try some of that stuff on the Russians.
Joan: You mean the Chinese, don’t you?
Fred: Yeah, the Chinese, try it on the Chinese.
Joan: Oh, dear. War was going on long before anybody dreamed up communism. It’s just the latest justification for self-righteousness. The problem isn’t communism. The problem is consensus. There’s a consensus out there that it’s OK to kill when your government decides who to kill. If you kill inside the country, you get in trouble. If you kill outside the country, right time, right season, latest enemy, you get a medal. There are about 130 nation-states, and each of them thinks it’s a swell idea to bump off all the rest because he is more important. The pacifist thinks there is only one tribe. Three billion members. They come first. We think killing any member of the family is a dumb idea. We think there are more decent and intelligent ways of settling differences. And man had better start investigating these other possibilities because if he doesn’t, then by mistake or by design, he will probably kill off the whole damn race.
Fred: It’s human nature to kill. Something you can’t change.
Joan: Is it? If it’s natural to kill, why do men have to go into training to learn how? There’s violence in human nature, but there’s also decency, love, kindness. Man organizes, buys, sells, pushes violence. The nonviolent wants to organize the opposite side. That’s all nonviolence is - organized love.
Fred: You’re crazy.
Joan: No doubt. Would you care to tell me the rest of the world is sane? Tell me that violence has been a great success for the past five thousand years, that the world is in fine shape, that wars have brought peace, understanding, democracy, and freedom to humankind and that killing each other has created an atmosphere of trust and hope. That it’s grand for one billion people to live off of the other two billion, or that even if it hadn’t been smooth going all along, we are now at last beginning to see our way though to a better world for all, as soon as we get a few minor wars out of the way.
Fred: I’m doing OK.
Joan: Consider it a lucky accident.
Fred: I believe I should defend America and all that she stands for. Don’t you believe in self-defense?
Joan: No, that’s how the mafia got started. A little band of people who got together to protect peasants. I’ll take Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance.
Fred:: I still don’t get the point of nonviolence.
Joan:: The point of nonviolence is to build a floor, a strong new floor, beneath which we can no longer sink. A platform which stands a few feet above napalm, torture, exploitation, poison gas, nuclear bombs, the works. Give man a decent place to stand. He’s been wallowing around in human blood and vomit and burnt flesh, screaming how it’s going to bring peace to the world. He sticks his head out of the hole for a minute and sees a bunch of people gathering together and trying to build a structure above ground in the fresh air. ‘Nice idea, but not very practical’, he shouts and slides back into the hole. It was the same kind of thing when man found out the world was round. He fought for years to have it remain flat, with every proof on hand that it was not flat at all. It had no edge to drop off or sea monsters to swallow up his little ship in their gaping jaws.
Fred: How are you going to build this practical structure?
Joan: From the ground up. By studying, experimenting with every possible alternative to violence on every level. By learning how to say no to the nation-state, ‘NO’ to war taxes, ‘NO’ to military conscription, ‘NO’ to killing in general, ‘YES’ to co-operation, by starting new institutions which are based on the assumption that murder in any form is ruled out, by making and keeping in touch with nonviolent contacts all over the world, by engaging ourselves at every possible chance in dialogue with people, groups, to try to change the consensus that it’s OK to kill.
Fred: : It sounds real nice, but I just don’t think it can work.
Joan: : You are probably right. We probably don’t have enough time. So far, we’ve been a glorious flop. The only thing that’s been a worse flop than the organization of nonviolence has been the organization of violence.
This reading is from The Class of Nonviolence, prepared by Colman McCarthy of the Center for Teaching Peace, 4501 Van Ness Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20016 202/537-1372
Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation
Fantastic read if you are anything like me and have wrestled with the Old Testament text ever since you were in high school.
Another book to put on my list.
Every year, over 90,000 women are raped in the United States.
You might know this already. You might even talk about it, argue about why it happens, the effect it has on people, how to stop it.
What is less well-known is that every year, over 140,000 men are raped in the United States.
No one talks about it because it happens inside of prisons. No one cares about it because it happens to prisoners. On the inside, guards use rape (both implied and actual) as a form of prisoner control. On the outside, people joke about it. Worse even, they see it as a form of punishment prisoners should endure, even though rape inside of a prison is an order of magnitude more likely to transmit a disease than rape outside of one.
This is what 140,000 people looks like:
Generations from now, our treatment of criminals will be looked at with the same disgust and horror that slavery is viewed with today, and our society will rightly be condemned as cruel and barbaric for it.
Every time you hear about an Afghan village destroyed by predator drones, or a journalist in Iraq blown up by US missiles, or a school full of Libyan children with Down-syndrome annihilated by NATO bombs, these are the ever-growing victims of 9/11.
Honor the memory of the 3000 victims who died ten years ago today by demanding an end to the wars.
“I’m proud to live in America because it’s a free country.”
Daisy Vo (via disobey)
This quote knows what’s up.
Bertrand Russell once said, “Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so.”
Wow. It’s 10:30 over here. That puts you in… the same time zone as London I believe.
P.S. You don’t have to stay anonymous
I don’t support any religion, either. Jesus didn’t come to start a religion. Every religion he saw he said was hypocritical and corrupt. He also said that when two people meet, “I am there, too.” When religion becomes organized, it loses its purpose.
You did, yes!
I don’t see anarchism as trendy, either. Actually, it upsets me when they look over it like that. There is so much deep thought and political philosophy behind it. People pass it off as being a violent revolutionary. But it’s really not that.
I can definitely do that! I must warn you that the answer you get is entirely dependent on the person you ask. Now, for me, I have two anarchist societies I think would be workable. One is Christian anarchism. The other is free-market anarchism (many people confuse free-markets and corporatism, so be sure not to).
Free-market anarchism is what I would support for secular communities.
So, to answer your questions.
1. I hope I’m not assuming too much - but I imagine you can see how things like schools would work without the state. It’s pretty easy to see how things that are necessary would work without the state (simply supply/demand theory will say that if there is a demand - if the product is necessary - supply will meet it). Most people only have an issue with two things: Law and Defense. For the answers to those two questions, I would suggest this book called, Chaos Theory by an economist named Robert P. Murphy. He’s incredible. It’s pretty short, too. Here is the link to the book: http://mises.org/books/chaostheory.pdf
2. This is answered in the book.
3. I’m not sure what you mean by helpless. Can you elaborate?
4. Yes! It’s very much a possibility! Chaos Theory does a good job dealing with this question.
5. I think most people really do see the value in it - they just meet a stumbling block. A societal construct that stems from a faulty understanding of anarchism. People just assume that it means you’re a molotov throwing violent revolutionary. Once you tell them you’re not (unless you are), then explain that we simply value freedom, liberty, non-agression, etc. they’ll usually agree that those are all valuable. Then they simply have to overcome the intellectual barriers (law, violence, defense, etc).
6. This one is difficult. I would suggest finding the perfect balance between not supporting the state and getting the word out about anarchy. For example, if you said something like, “Oh, well, the roads and sidewalks were paved through funds by the government - I’m not going to walk or drive anywhere” you really wouldn’t be very useful for spreading the good news of anarchism. So, I think that if you find a good balance between functioning in the world and subverting the state - you’ll be golden.
7. By value, do you mean values such as freedom and liberty? I think those are pretty universally accepted and valuable. Haha. If you mean value in the realization of anarchism - I like to use two examples.
A. Science. The field of physics, for example, has no leader. Physics is an example of anarchy. However, physics is extremely orderly. There are steps to take to publish articles, get it reviewed, etc.
B. (I like this one better.) Language. No one decides what words will mean. They become a part of society almost mysteriously. You might be saying, “The dictionary, duhhhh.” Well, what does the dictionary really do? All they do is codify the existing and accepted meaning. If Webster’s changed “down” to mean “moving toward the sky” you wouldn’t think, “Crap! We’ve been wrong all along!” No, you would just stop using Websters. This is how the society would work. Private law would just stem from the accepted norm. You might be wondering how law would work in anarchism. For that answer, read Chaos Theory.
Hope this helps!
Let me know if you have any other thoughts on the subject. =)
Anarchism, as I understand it, is against coercion. It’s against rule by the use of force. It would be oversimplifying things if one just said, “Anarchists cannot serve anything.”
Anarchists simply reject coercive rule and authority through force.
However, I choose to follow Christ - I am not coerced or forced to follow Jesus.
I hope that helps!
Are you a Christian statist?
Can you elaborate on that a bit? I don’t see the conflict. Haha.
I’m glad you’re a, “just wondering” person. Most people are all, “YOU SUCK YOU DON’T ACTUALLY LOVE GOD.”
So I’m glad you’re going to be different. =)
I don’t like his music… if that’s what you’re asking.
But I love him. Gotta love my enemies, right? Haha.
No, it’s not.
Anarchism is the logical conclusion of Christ’s teachings. There are inherent aspects of Jesus’s message that lead to the rejection of the state (not resisting evil, not serving two masters, not judging, loving your enemy, not fighting evil with evil, etc.).
Just read the Sermon on the Mount then ask yourself, “Does the state meet these?”
(Hint: Your answer will be no.)