Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pacifism and Peacemaking

Every principled pacifist is a peacemaker, but not every peacemaker is an absolute pacifist. While I am not an absolute pacifist, I have always shared, say, the Catholic Worker pro-active, powerful, even radical, protest against the warmaking powers of the State which, needless to say, very often go far beyond strict self-defense to outright aggression against other nations under various self-serving pretexts.

But I have never known even a Catholic Worker who would not fight to save, say, a woman being raped in the park. Catholic theology has always insisted on the obligation to resist if possible violence against the innocent who are attacked anywhere, even as it heeds the words of our Lord to become genuine and active peacemakers.

Dorothy Day's pacifism I have always seen as a personal response she made and invited others to make, something akin to an exemplary vocation. But as said, even most CW's I have known or corresponded with would fight to protect someone else in immediate danger or under assault. This should not surprise us because CW's are not cowards but principled peacemakers. And it is this peacemaking vis a vis the State which is in my opinion their Franciscan-like gift of witness, and I share it completely.

Only strict, verifiable, defense of the innocent can ever justify, even oblige at times, resistance with proportionate force to repel the aggressor. With very few exceptions (genocidal maniacs for one instance) I am even against the death penalty.

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