I was told by a friend that compassion was insufficient to stop wars. That peaceful anti-war marches were often unequal to the task they set out to achieve. He said that compassion was not enough. You needed more. Sometimes violence was required to make the point, that those ends justify the means. I did not, do not, cannot, will not ever concede that point.
He thought I was a pacifist. I am not. I would defend my homeland as I would my family and if in that defence my enemy was killed, regrettable and horrid an eventuality as that would be, self-preservation is Tao. It is the way of things. Defence of oneself is a natural and a legitimate act. Violent protest is not.
My friend then, thinking I was a pacifist, told me he wasn't. That act's of violence are sometimes required in aid of making a point and that he had and would use violent methods of protest to that end.
That is wrong. Wrong about compassion. Wrong about violent protest.
He also asked me to number the times peaceful protests had achieved their aims?
In truth, I don't know much less care. You either are a peace protester or you aren't. If you are not someone who protests peacefully then you are no different to those you protest against.
Ironically, my friend now insists he is a pacifist and, oddly enough, always was. I guess that means something and for the sake of a once valued friendship I accept that it takes two to tango. We all make mistakes. Christ knows I have. And so long as that dance is a peaceful one I think it best to forgive and forget.
We live in a society that is neither fair not equitable nor truly democratic. In the face of such unfairness, such inequality (social, sexual, racial) and without true democracy is it any wonder we seek a better path; a brighter future?
Noam Chomsky puts it best....
'Now a federated, decentralised system of free associations, incorporating economic as well as other social institutions, would be what I refer to as anarcho-syndicalism; and it seems to me that this is the appropriate form of social organisation for an advanced technological society in which human beings do not have to be forced into the position of tools, of cogs in the machine. There is no longer any social necessity for human beings to be treated as mechanical elements in the productive process; that can be overcome and we must overcome it to be a society of freedom and free association, in which the creative urge that I consider intrinsic to human nature will, in fact, be able to realize itself in whatever way it will.'
If protest we must then protest peacefully, with dignity, with pride. Change is needed so is a peaceful existence. Peace must be achieved by peaceful means.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.