Thursday, June 26, 2008

Major Barbara & Mugabe

Watching Major Barbara, at the National Theatre I wondered if Shaw's invitation to the audience to 'make war on war' to change society was music to the ears of those who would have it that Iraq should have been invaded and who similarly would have Mugabe violently dethroned (especially and most speedily if he sat on a store of oil). This week, as an adjunct to an email from a friend I was asked (seriously) what I would do (as a 'pacifist') about someone like Mugabe.

Lets start by examining how literally we are to take such suggestions as to 'make war on war'? We can read Einstein in a similar vein when he says 'I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace.' But when he finishes with 'Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war' we know exactly what he means.

Here are the thoughts of others on the subjects of the play, including fighting fire with fire or using violence and war to achieve ends however seemingly justified.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech, American Society of Newspaper Editors,
16 April 1953

The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

True pacifism is not unrealistic submission to an evil power. ...It is rather a courageous confrontation with evil by the power of love, in the faith that it is better to be the recipient of violence than the inflicter of it, since the latter only multiplies the existence of violence and bitterness in the universe, while the former may develop a sense of shame in the opponent, and thereby bring about a transformation and change of heart.
Martin Luther King, Jr

Non-violence is a power which can be wielded equally by all - children, young men and women or grown-up people, provided they have a living faith in the God of Love and have therefore equal love for all mankind. When non-violence is accepted as the law of life it must pervade the whole being and not be applied to isolated acts.
Mohandas K. Ghandi

So what would I do about someone like Mugabe?

Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.
Plutarch

I would persevere. I would not expect immediate results. I would step by step work on the problem rather than taking a short cut using violence.

The drop of rain maketh a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling.
Lucretius

As Asimov puts it 'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.'

When you consider the vast resources available to the rest of the world and the power those resources wield maybe it is an oversimplification to imagine those resources being used for a covert (nonviolent) operation to remove Mugabe to a Mental Health facility for his own good and the good of the country he is clearly unable to govern because of his mental health is unfit. Or try something else and if that didn't work try something else...and only stop trying when the problem is solved.

I am beginning to see violence as laziness...that if we don't come up with the answer immediately that we give up and resort to violence...

Einstein said "It's not that I'm so smart , it's just that I stay with problems longer."

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