What Do Pacifists Do and Try to Achieve?

Posted: September 25, 2012 in controversy, peace and love, politics
Tags: , , , ,

What do you think of when you hear the word “pacifist”?  With very negative portrayals in the media, many people think of unshaven, skinny men with long hair and beards and women in cheesecloth dresses and unshaven armpits.  Let me start by saying that the way you look has absolutely nothing to do with being a pacifist or not.  You can be a pacifist in a $10,000 Armani suit, or if you are butt naked.

What Are Pacifists?

Pacifists are people who do not believe in physical violence.  There are a lot of songs that describe what a pacifist’s beliefs are, my personal favourite being Donovan’s Universal Soldier.  In here, he describes that it is all fine and well being against war, blaming it on governments, but it is the soldiers that are willing to take up arms and give up their lives – as well as taking other people’s lives – that are just as much the cause of wars.

Pacifists aren’t only against wars, they are against any form of violence and aggression.  A good example of this is expressed by Bob Dylan in his song The Times They Are A Changing.  Another personal favourite!

So Aren’t Pacifists Just Doormats?

For some people, being a pacifist means you just let yourself be walked all over.  It is a shame, because it is due to these people that outward violence still exists.  Pacifists are not push overs or doormats.  They are people that believe a solution can be found by solidarity, by standing strong together, by writing and talking and simply by showing up.  A very good example of a large group of pacifists is the Occupy movement.

How Pacifists Try to Change the World

Don’t mistake pacifism with diplomacy, by the way.   Indeed, pacifists like to use words to change the world.  The famous statement that the pen is mightier than the sword is a great example.  Diplomacy, however, is where people give and take a little bit.  For pacifists, it isn’t about giving and taking.  It is about laying down arms and finding constructive solutions to get along without any outward shows of violence.

As stated earlier, however, pacifists don’t just only focus on war.  They focus on all inequalities in the world.  The gap between rich and poor, oppressive governments and so on.  They do this by collectively standing up and saying “no more”.  However, they don’t then start riots, they don’t start looting or pillaging.  They respect every individual in the world, even the ones that are being complete assholes right now.  Everybody deserves a second chance, everybody can see sense.  For instance, during the Vietnam war, many veterans took up position with protestors, demanding an end to the war and peace in the world.

True pacifism is hard to maintain.  Unfortunately, protestors are often attacked by the police.  Considering pacifists will not, ever, have an outward show of violence, it is clear that these attacks are almost always unprovoked.  I have been in such a situation myself.  I was at the celebration of a football club in Rotterdam, many, many years ago.  There were 100,000 people gathered in the town centre (I don’t care about football, but this was bound to be a good party!).  Eight young lads started being irritating and an inexperienced police officer pulled his weapon and shot one in the leg.  Pandemonium broke out instantly.  100,000 people, me included, were kettled away from the town centre by the Mobile Unit, who were walking, slamming their shields, or on horseback.  We were then pushed away with water cannons and lastly, we were tear gassed.  I was just there trying to have a good time and even me, who prides herself on being a pacifist, got pushed so far that had there been a brick near me, I would have thrown it at the police.  By the way, the town got completely trashed and looted, which was perhaps an even bigger shame than the police brutality that was shown that day.

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