Skip to main content

Extreme Pacifism, Extreme Patriotism, Both Equally Bad

In this post I will speak briefly about pacifism and patriotism and the dangers of both extremes in the spiritual life.

Today there is much talk about war. There has always been.  The history of the world is the history of warfare. Usually when there is talk about war people usually fall into two camps; the pacifist camp which is always opposed to war and the patriotic camp which treats war as a necessary evil.  Both extremes are equally wrong.  Let me explain...

Pacifism.  On the surface pacifists get a better rep because who in their right mind would be for war and bloodshed?  Spoken from this angle no one can dispute this claim but spoken from the lens of daily living pacifism is a weakness for an extreme pacifist will not confront evil on the premise of being against war in general.  The problem with this is that it can foster an attitude of passivity ignoring the reality that evil does exist and sometimes the only way to defeat evil is through direct confrontation. (Think of World War II and Hitler.) Hippies are the classic examples of this extreme claiming to be for peace but turning their eyes away from evil.

Patriotism. On the surface patriots get the heroic rep.  What can be more glorious then dying for a country or a person?  The problem with this is that the extreme patriot doesn't recognize the dignity of the country that he/she is fighting against.  Yes there are just wars and certain armies have more of the truth on their side. (Think of World War II again, the allies vs. the axis powers.) but the danger of this thinking is that every side thinks that they are right. The Yugoslavian civil war of the 1990's are a tragic example how extreme patriotism can lead to unspeakable tragedy.

A true christian should strive to possess the best elements of pacifism AND of patriotism. There is a way to be both. Love of country of peace do not have to be mutually exclusive.


  1. I think you made a very good case in your two explanatory paragraphs, however, in your introductory paragraph I think you mis-state your case. You said:

    "Usually when there is talk about war people usually fall into two camps; the pacifist camp which is always opposed to war and the patriotic camp which treats war as a necessary evil. Both extremes are equally wrong."

    But then in your case against extreme patriotism you argue (well) against demonizing "the enemy" and placing on a pedestal one's own nation; but you did not argue against seeing war as a necessary evil.

    That's a writing issue. As far as the actual arguements go, I would say that the view that war is a necessary evil is NOT extreme patriotism. Or even patriotism at all. You could view war as a necessary evil and think your own nation is an unjust aggressor.

    I do agree with the arguement you made against extreme patriotism in your explanatory paragraph. It's just that the introduction takes a different angle, which is confusing, and I also happen to disagree with that, at least at first glance without greater nuance.

  2. Thanks for your cogent reply. I realized when I was proofreading I realized several inconsistencies. I decided however, to publish it anyway since I was working against a self imposed deadline. Thanks for reading.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

10 Great Quotes from The Book of Sirach

The book of Sirach is a book that is often overlooked in the bible. This is unfortunate since this book contains many wise, practical saying on how to live a virtous life. The book was believed to have been written between 200-175 B.C.E.

Here are ten quotes that I feel best reflect this timeless work.

1."Do not become a beggar by feasting with\borrowed money, when you have nothing in your purse." Sirach 18:33

2."In all you do remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin." 7:36

3.."Glory and dishonor come from speaking; a man's tongue is his downfall." 5:13"

4."A wise man is cautious in everything." 18:27

5."One who trusts others is light minded." 19:4

6."If you pursue justice, you will obtain it and wear it as a glorious robe." 27:8

7."Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but no many as have fallen because of the tongue." 28:18

8." In all of your work be industrious and no sickness will…

George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and The Afterlife

I was stunned, as was most of the world was when I heard about the passing of George Michael on Christmas day.  Michael possessed enormous talent was and one of the most successful acts in the 1980's and early 90's

Shortly after Carrie Fisher died.  Fisher was famous for her legendary role as princess Leia from the Star Wars movies.  Strangely her mother also died the day after.

2016 was a notable year for celebrity deaths.

Some names include Prince, Glenn Frey, David Bowie,  Doris Roberts, Alan Rickman, and Muhammad Ali.

As a Catholic these deaths got me thinking about the transient nature of life and the inevitability of death.

Marcus Aurelius, the stoic, emperor, philosopher king wrote about the passing nature of life as he reflected, "Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."

Even though I agree mostly with Aurelius&…

Me vs. The Almighty

There is a famous scene in the Bible where Jacob wrestles with God.  Jacob fights with God until God takes out a bone from Jacob's thigh. Interestingly, God eventually relents and stops fighting with Jacob. After this dramatic incident, Jacob is renamed Israel which literally means, "he who struggles with God."

I can relate to this story.  Many times in my life I have argued with God. I still do. (my wife can attest to that.) Many times I have criticized his tactics, his ways, and his wisdom. In my worst moments, I have even used choice language. I have a complicated relationship with God. Like Jacob, I have wrestled with God. (thigh bone still intact)

Recently I approached a priest friend of mine and told him of my struggles with God.  I expected that he would chide me for my lack of respect and informality. What this priest said was illuminating and encouraging. He told me that it was OK at times to be angry with God, God understood. He, in fact, encouraged this honest…