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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.



Comments

  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete

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