Death Or Chocolate Chips

As writers, particularly writers dealing in the shady side of “literature” where we can employ magic or magical “future science” we are told over and over and over “there must be a price” and “there must be a cost.”

It is amazing to me, now and always, how many of us forget that in real life.  And how many of us forget it in books, too, when we’re not dealing with magic or magical future science.

I made a post thanking those who served for Memorial Day.  And of course, right on cue, like something rehearsed – which it is, since it’s the response drilled into most of us who attended any school system in Europe, the US or possibly most of the world – someone came in to say that war doesn’t secure peace.

I will confess this is true.  No war, as yet, has managed to secure ever lasting peace.  Fortunately or unfortunately, though, I live in the real world and I study real history.  Oh, yeah, also I’m human and I live among humans and know (and rather like) the breed.  The only way to secure lasting peace is to kill all of humanity.  We managed to avoid this during the cold war, and I hope will continue to avoid it in these our fraught times.

But we’ve been taught Word War I was the war to end all wars.  We’ve been taught it didn’t work and therefore all war is futile, all war should be avoided and also that because we can’t secure lasting peace from the smallest kindergarten to the largest nation state, we are a worthless species and should go voluntarily extinct and leave the Earth to the peaceful species who don’t kill each other, don’t kill their own members and don’t engage in cannibalism.

There might be a species or two that follow those rules.  Possibly leaf molds.  But it’s entirely possible we ONLY think that because we don’t know enough about leaf molds.  Desmond Morris made a lot of sales out of his thesis that only humans were “the killer ape” and that, in fact, that was our edge over other primates, let alone all other animals.  Turns out the thesis was beautiful, cogent, and what people wanted to hear.  (Waggles hand.)  It was also completely and thoroughly wrong.

War – and fighting – does not (and won’t if we’re lucky) bring about eternal peace.  But it does, for a time, secure peace in a part of the world, or a corner of kindergarten.  Do the right people always win?  Oh, please.  SOMEONE wins, and that is usually enough for peace to last a little while, and for humans to go about lawful occasions and improve their lot.  One thing is sure, though, if your tribe won’t fight; if your tribe won’t stand its ground; if your tribe won’t defend itself, you will not last.  It doesn’t take two sides to engage in a war, just as it doesn’t take two sides to get in a fight in kindergarten.  If you think that it’s because you’re delusional kindergarten teachers drilled it into you.  And they were wrong.  A war is still a war if it’s a massacre and one side kills the other.  And a fight is still a fight if one of the kids is beating the other or breaking the other’s stuff.  It’s still not peace.

Outside of sitcoms, certain – largely unbelievable – books and the more tendencious type of movies, the word for “pacifist” is “dead” and the word for “peaceful” is “leaves no descendants” and no one, no one EVER managed to secure their side by bathing the enemy in loving kindness.  The first person to mention Gandhi in this context will get kicked around the block until they can’t sit for a week.  Gandhi engaged in psychological warfare, turning British morals and beliefs about themselves ON themselves.  If he’d tried to use that on any other enemy, or even on the British of a hundred years earlier, he’d have been a smear on the pavement.  This is exemplified by his belief that the Jews should have marched into the ovens to “deprive the Nazis of his victory.”  This shows either he was a dirty anti-Semite, or a fool, completely unaware of what made his strategy work or that it wasn’t so much he’d chosen to be peaceful but that the British Empire had chosen to go quietly into that good night.  Which is what happens when a civilization chooses “peace”

World War I might have been the last huzzah of Western aggression – or not – and it might have been largely a waste of time and young men.  Or not.  These things take place in response to mechanisms we, as mere individuals aren’t fully conscious of.  WWI was as much a response to changing technology and upheavals in culture as to territorial aggression.  We don’t know the truth about WWI.  We won’t for centuries, if then.

Meanwhile, even if you accept it was the “war of the defeated” and that there was nothing good come of it, taking from it the absolute pacifist vision made WWII far more lethal than it should have been and the “War never solved anything” has blood on their hands from the many flares up in the cold war.  The Soviet Union used your guilt and your vision of peace to do as they would.  And if you think that is good, then you have not ever studied what happened under Soviet rule.

See, the thing is, we are in the end mammals, not archangels.  We evolved to be aggressive – to be the most aggressive, to survive.  But – you say – must it always be that way?  Will things not get better?

Things have got better.  I always laugh at the idiots who think taking us back to rural times will make us nicer, or that “noble savages” are noble and peaceful.  While the Nation State has made possible the large-scale abattoirs in the valley of the Somme, higher civilization (defined as more prosperous and less tribal and land-dependent) translates into less war for each individual in their locale.   In small rural and tribal societies, war was pervasive and “distributed”.  War was what happened when boys from a village went courting a girl from another village.  War was what happened when a village’s gods wanted victims.  War was what happened when you wanted the crop the other village just brought it.  And while it might involve only half a dozen men on either side, war could devastate both villages – and did.  Peace was by far the exception.  

It took big bad sons of b– babies with large weapons and the ability to quiet most of these little conflicts (not all.  In insular societies, some still goes on.  It did when I was little.)  There is a reason Pax Romana is part of the vocabulary.  Romans didn’t achieve that peace with aqueducts, law or schools – though they had all those – but because they had bigger lances and a better organized army.

And that is because we are animals, not archangels.  Even good people – genuinely good people, with the best intentions – can convince themselves it would be best for everyone if only that wheat field weren’t in the hands of bad people, but in the hands of good people.  To be human is to be flawed. To be human is to be able to lie to yourself.  To be human is to crave power, even when you tell yourself that it’s not power but what’s best for everyone, and that you’re doing it for the hungry, and really, you’re the good guy.

Will there come a time when we study war no more?  I don’t know.  My religion requires me to believe so, but it will take a miracle, and miracles are the prerogative of the divine and nothing the human mind can understand.

Until then we’re stuck in this here world, where the choice is NEVER between death or chocolate chips.  The choice is always between the least of two evils.  And sometimes, yes, you have to fight for the least of two evils.

There is no perfect state and no perfect peace short of heaven.  We humans must always fight – and often die – for the best we can get.  Fools think this makes us a terrible species.  I think it makes us admirable and it makes those who give their lives for their tribe and their homeland admirable – and it makes even more admirable those who put their lives on the line for principle: for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Because if that miracle is ever to occur and make war really rare, I”m sure those principles will be at the bottom or it.

Thank you again to all who risk their lives and their peace that we might enjoy peace.  And those who think that peace can be bought with pretty words and no effort, think shame on yourselves.  Those who are kind to the cruel always, inevitably, are cruel to the kind.  Those who aren’t willing to defend the ones being attacked always end up with blood on their hands.  And those who think that fighting isn’t worth it because no peace is eternal have consigned themselves to the moral nursery, where it’s possible to purchase something for nothing.

And those who write about the world that way are propagating lies and worsening suffering.  If there’s ever a choice between death or chocolate chips, of course I’ll pick chocolate chips.  Unfortunately that choice has yet to happen even once in the history of the world.  But maybe you’ll get lucky.  Maybe tomorrow it will rain ice cream.  In the meantime, keep your weapons sharp and stop telling lies to the young.

102 thoughts on “Death Or Chocolate Chips

  1. Funny, whenever I try to visualize world peace all I get is a barren desolate wasteland. Another word for pacifist is slave. Pacifism by any other name is a luxury afforded by the sacrifice of others for the benefit of the morally preening few.

    One thing I admire about Martin’s Westeros saga is the clear (to those with eyes to see) depiction of the costs that war and the breakdown of public order impose upon the peasantry.

    BTW, we should always keep in the forefront of our minds that the whole “War to end all war” crap about “The Great War” was a lie propagated by President Wilson.

    1. BTW, we should always keep in the forefront of our minds that the whole “War to end all war” crap about “The Great War” was a lie propagated by President Wilson.

      Wilson had many. Wasn’t he just the most wonderful thug?

      1. I like to think of it as Round 3 of the Franco-Prussian War. ; )

        Mostly it all represents the collapse of the Hapsburg family business, something I guess could be traced to Bonaparte. I find that you rarely go wrong blaming Bonaparte.

        1. And us. Don’t forget us in the collapse of the Habsburg family business. We maybe didn’t sword enough peasants to get into the history books that way, but a competitive model is always valuable.

          1. Ric, you missed another reason you could ‘blame’ us. We had a somewhat successful revolution, and started the great experiment in democratic republican governance. (Which, these days, we are wondering if it will be maintained.)

            Any rate, some of the French liked what they saw. They took the idea and they thought that they could go it one better. We quite happily accepted Thomas Paine, who had become a pain, leaving here to go there. Thomas Jefferson, while sad that some friends lost their lives, thought the cause of democracy was worth the sacrifice. Ultimately France became mired in the Terror, and that lead to the rise of Napoleon.

        2. It’s always better to choose someone who isn’t around anymore to defend themselves when assigning blame, with America and Americans of course being the exception that proves the rule. We will always agree with anyone who blames us.

  2. Turning the other cheek does sometimes work, if the other person is willing to use the experience as a wake-up call. However, it is worth remembering that Christ got His cheek turned all the way into a corpse on the Cross. Nor was this any surprise to Him. He knew what was in our hearts, good and bad.

    He did immediately go into a deathmatch with Death which He won; and at the end of time He is scheduled to come back heading a conquering army to rescue His faithful, while bringing the eternal death penalty. He is a king and a warrior with legions of angels; He became a sacrificial Lamb by choice, for His own good reasons.

    In the present time, to turn the other cheek is to join Him on the Cross and expect to get temporally smeared. Convincing anybody to change their ways is a happy gift from God meant to benefit them, not anything promised by God to us. Therefore, it is a tactic to be used with discretion when one is ready and willing to get smeared, not an absolute command for all Christians at all times.

    Roman soldiers were among the first Christians, and not because they all forswore their jobs. Neither Jesus nor his cousin John the Baptist told soldiers to quit war.

    1. While I cannot comment with any authority on it, I have heard that the admonition to Turn the Other Cheek was intended as advice for dealing with someone who you otherwise consider to be a decent or honorable person, so that you may give them an opportunity to recognize what they have done and keep from escalating what may have been a mere misunderstanding, and that it was not intended as a way to deal with an outside aggressor, who would not be swayed by the fact that you didn’t fight back.

      1. My father was a “turn the other cheek” kind of guy and when we left home not one of his children respected him. The reason? His principles were more important that feeding, clothing and sheltering his own children. I think in many ways (he was in the Navy) that my dad was a pacifist. I learned the hard way that pacifism doesn’t feed the children.

    2. Matter of fact, one of Jesus’ last injunctions to the disciples before he was “captured,” “tried,” and executed, was to tell them to get swords, and that if anyone did not have one, to sell his cloak to purchase one.

      And the dude that single-handedly cleaned out the cheating loan sharks in the Temple was hardly what I’d call a pacifist, would you? ;D

    3. “Turning the other cheek” may be one of the most misunderstood points of history and means little without the context of the times.

      In biblical times, the Romans, while searching a village, would line the men up in the street and look them over. If they felt someone was insufficiently meek, they’d slap them. If that person retaliated, he was slaughtered. What Jesus was saying was to not let them know they’re getting to you. “Turning the other cheek” was the ultimate F-you to the Romans – it was intended as an act of defiance to their oppression, and not as a “let’s all hold hands and be friends” analogy.

  3. I’d imagine that, sometimes, the wheat field should be in the good peoples’ hands. Assuming you can figure out who the good people are….

    Can you imagine how good we have it that people can actually suggest something as silly as “violence never solved anything”?

    1. My father was one of those. In one experience we lost ten thousand dollars because of a scam. My father wouldn’t press charges even though he knew the people and knew that he could press charges. The sheriff asked him to press charges. (The particular scam was that these people were selling acres of land and knew that the bank would not finance the property. The people and the bank split the profits from scamming people who put down payments on the property.)

      Because he turned the other cheek, his wife and three of his daughters went to work to have enough money to feed the family. I am still steamed about that one.

      It was the principle he said. He would rather be on charity than to violate his principle. As you can see I turned out quite differently.

      1. That has GOT to be one of the most disgusting personal misapplications of “turn the other cheek” I’ve ever seen. (horrific misapplications for other people are much easier to figure out)

      2. Yurg… Yeah, turn the other cheek, but what about defending the defenseless, the widows and orphans?

    2. the guy who runs Google said the world has enough resources to feed everyone “if properly organized” He kept saying “if properly organized” and I saw that he regarded himself and folks like him as the organizers. i found it chilling. Good think they say “don’t be evil.”

      1. Oh, he’s right about sufficient resources to feed everyone “if properly organized.” If by “properly organized” he means crowd-sourced free-market exchanges. If instead he means by a central authority, well the sad fact is that in the last Century pretty much EVERY famine has been a consequence of such attempts to “properly organize.”

        Ask the Ukrainians, Georgians, Kulaks, Chinese, Ethiopians and Somalis how properly things get organized.

        And — of course — by “don’t be evil” they mean resistance to their enlightened leadership is evil. It is only in comic books and bad movies that evil self-identifies as such; otherwise they tend to preach about the greater good.

      2. Does Google have the resources to build a military force to defeat Mugabe, for example? I’m pretty sure that they will do a better job than the average 3rd world nutjob kleptocrat. For one thing, they don’t have a historical grudge against the majority of the population.

        1. Having seen the leadership of google’s decisions, including their kowtowing to China, and the fact they’re EXCELLENTLY indoctrinated educated, in our best colleges, I’ lay you money they’d out-Mugabe Mugabe within a year.

  4. If there’s ever a choice between death or chocolate chips, of course I’ll pick chocolate chips. Unfortunately that choice has yet to happen even once in the history of the world.

    How woefully uninformed you are of the manifold atrocities that happen within the shadowy confines of a Basken Robbins back room 🙂

    The MS I’m working on, my first evah, is a study on this very subject. In fact, it goes over to the other side and considers what it would take to turn our moral norms from what you describe above (in the peaceniks) toward a far more Roman mentality of expansion. Coincidentally, I confirmed last week with a Classics prof here in town that I was using Pax Humana correctly. Online translators can be a boon, but with something like Latin, where context and such matter a great deal, I wanted to make sure I was correct. Ironically, while Pax Romana meant a period of relative peace and consolidation, my guys are using it to promote a genocidal interplanetary war (six, actually).

    Awful and horrible, you say? Well, what happens to human psychology and moral calculations when more than five billion of your fellow apes have been killed? Does it turn to suing for peace and showering the enemy with love and understanding? Or do you take the singular advantage you have and turn it against the aggressor to the greatest degree possible?

  5. Great post, Sarah. I have friends who are religious pacifists and they are the first to tell you that 1) true pacifism is incredibly difficult and 2) they would not be here today if other people had not defended their ancestors.

    Until everyone on this planet decides that they “ain’t gonna study war no more,” someone will have to be ready and willing to protect themselves and others. At the moment, I don’t see that happening in my lifetime, barring the Second Coming of Jesus (Christian Edition).

  6. This post sparked a memory of when I was in elementary school in 1968 and I was seven years old. It was the first few days of school and they were trying this new program called “Programmed Reading.” If any of you remember this program, imho it caused a full generation of children to become the semi-illiterate group they are today. (My sister who is 49 is among this group).

    Anyway, one of the reading assignments was a story of two armies that were the size of tin soldiers fighting. The story asked each side what they were fighting for. Each side answered family, food, and clothing. Basically this was propaganda for seven year olds with the “why can’t we just get along.” And, the way to stop wars is that one side has to stop fighting.

    Well, later on when I read the history books, the groups that quit fighting lost their homes and were assimilated into another culture. Many times these losers became slaves and serfs. So no, the way to peace is to win and not to quit.

    1. The story left out one other thing they fought for: family, food, and clothing AND lebensraum Thing is, one person’s Living Room is another person’s Den.

      1. Well – I heard from a German history professor who was a child during WWII that to them lebensraum was really away of saying more land. Hitler wanted to turn the Ukraine into the breadbasket of Germany. Plus when we were living there, the weather reports were always about Central and West Germany. Never East Germany… some Germans still consider Poland a part of Germany and should be called East Germany. 😉

  7. Robert Heinlein had a great comeback to the “ain’t gonna study war no more” meme in “Starship Troopers”. I much prefer the words of Thomas Jefferson: “To live in peace, one must be prepared for war.” Basically, you can have ‘peace’ only as long as it’s too expensive for someone else to contest that peace. That’s what kept the “cold war” from breaking out in a “HOT” war. At the same time, I know of at least sixty incidents that happened that cost American service members their lives, from the death of an RB-45 crew in Europe to the USS Liberty in the Mediterranean, to the USS Pueblo in North Korea. I also know of at least a dozen cases where the other side got thoroughly stomped during a “probe”, and I spent my year in Vietnam with the Air Force. The only way current humanity can avoid war is to make it so expensive for an aggressor that it’s not worth the risk. Then you have nutjobs like the current Iranian “leadership” that don’t really CARE.

    1. yes – my personal philosophy in any fight. “Make it so expensive (and or miserable) that the other person will think twice about doing it again.”

      1. It would take me awhile to dig out my old books on the subject, but one of the interesting and little considered aspects (outside of certain intellectual circles) of the Vietnam War, debacle that it was, was its effect on the Soviet Union. It illustrates the “make it so painful” philosophy of war.

        I’m too young, by far, to have been in the Army post-Vietnam, but my Dad and his contemporaries who did serve in SE Asia and in the post-war were of the uniform opinion that if the Soviets had crossed the inner-German border any time in the 70s they would’ve wiped the floor with us- so why didn’t they? The nuclear deterrent, yes, but also something else. There’s one thing about Vietnam that most people either forget or cite as a “”travesty.”

        We lost over 58,000 Soldiers… we killed over 1 MILLION North Vietnamese and VC. That was enough to give even the Soviet general staff pause. Through raw firepower and skill, even with the divisions at home and the disciplinary problems that began to rot the Army late in the war (the Army of 1965 was fairly excellent, 1970, not so much by our standards), the United States Army and Marine Corps were slaughtering a tough, if underequipped, enemy on the battlefield.

        That’s kind of what I hope the resulsts of Iraq and Afghanistan come out to. No, we won’t be able to stabilize Afghanistan, and Iraq is likley to fall apart too, but hopefully some potential aggressors will remember that a terrorist attack on us results in two wrecked countries and casualty exchange rates in the neighborhood of 20 -1. This won’t stop hard core Wahabi fanatics, but I hope it will give the average I-Hate-America club members pause.

        1. the United States Army and Marine Corps were slaughtering a tough, if underequipped, enemy on the battlefield.

          On THEIR battlefield. From the far side of the world.

          I don’t know where Uncle Bard came up with it, but that’s what he says, too.

            1. And there were Coasties there as well, and the Air Force dropping ordinance and shooting down Migs. I was just focused on the major land combatants, not trying to denigrate anyone’s service or imply the Army and the USMC were the only ones bearing the brunt.

    2. And then there are those in the Iranian leadership who firmly believe that the 12th Imam is talking to them, and telling them that they need to start a world war so that he is able to return. . . In my limited experience, when a crazy person believes that he or she needs to do something wild because the voices in his head are telling him to do it, taking him seriously is the best course of action, even if you are utterly sure that he is off his rocker and not really talking to Napoleon/ the President/ G-d or whoever.

      1. If the person thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt and charges up the stairs blowing his trumpet thinking he is at San Juan Hill then the best thing to do is to send him to Happydale. (Along with his two sisters who keep needing new locks dug in Panama and are always finding new yellow fever victims.)

        On the other hand if he thinks he has been called to start Armageddon to bring about the return of the Twelfth Imam and the people of the nation have voted him into power, by choice or manipulation, and there is a good chance they have or are nearing nucler capabilities, then, yes, it is time to take him very seriously.

      2. “He had ‘im a gun ‘n’ war threatenin’ ter use it” (or equivalent) is not only justifiable homicide going back at least as far as the Romans — it is an excellent way of teaching people with guns to behave responsibly … and keep their mouths shut.

  8. Oh, how very right you are in what you say, Sarah A. Hoyt. How very right, and what a marvelous way to say it, too. “Who is merciful to the cruel will in the end be cruel to the merciful” can be applied to the politics of our day in that leftist mollycoddling of prisoners and terrorists and appeasement of nation states that support terror will only bring more crime and more terror. I have always felt that when Man beats his swords into plowshares you will soon notice a marked increase in the number of murders by plowshare. Thank you again, Sarah, for a wonderful essay on man’s inclination toward conflict as a means to ensure his own survival. The only way to avoid such conflict is to destroy mankind in toto, and I should think wiser heads will always find a way around that one.

    1. OK, I was thinking the other day. (I do that, you know, think.) It occurred to me that all the progressive child rearing manuals talk about using ‘time out’ in place of corporal punishment. They explain that removing the child from the troublesome environment and giving it time to think about what it had done is ‘good.’ Now many of these same progressives argue that prison is bad because it is punishment and punishment is non-constructive. Why don’t we try calling prison time ‘time out’?

      Just a thought. Of course, we have already discussed the impressive lack of consistency in thought human beings are capable of practicing.

      1. I’ve seen enough of socialism in several countries over a sufficient number of years so that I have come to strongly disagree with most (if not all) liberal positions on just about everything, including punishment not being constructive.

        In other words, if sticking your hand into an open flame burns you, do you thereafter avoid sticking your hand into flames, or not?

        If the child in your school who you have been bullying for the last six months picks up a 2×4 and smacks you up side your head, do you continue to bully him?

        Punishment does indeed work.

        Liberals are essentially socialists, and it is their goal to control every facet of your life, whether it ends up good or bad for you. That is not important to them; controlling your life is, however very important to them. Essentially, it means that YOU are in no position to control their lives, however they wish to live. Smart, right? Smart for them, maybe; you, not so much.

  9. Coincidentally, I read something rather to the point about this (my emphasis): “surely it is unnecessary to paint a false picture of a people as peaceable and ecologically conscientious in order to condemn the great crimes agaisnt them, as if genocide were wrong only when the victims are nice guys” (From The Blank Slate by Steve Pinker).

    Of course, this implies that those who do feel the need to paint that false picture at some level believe that genocide is not wrong when used against the “bad guys” – and the attendant issues of who are the bad guys and why. I figure this is high-octane nightmare fuel. I’d much rather be working with people who consider genocide to be repugnant at any time, but accept that it may be necessary. Those people will do everything they can to find an alternative before resorting to genocide. The ones who need their victims to be “pure” are the ones who’ll eliminate the impure without stopping to think that the impure are human too.

    1. An interesting point that I hadn’t considered. Urk! Going to have some interesting exchanges whenever the subject of the worthiness of victims comes up.

    2. Very true, and something I tend to watch in myself. I see things naturally in black and white, and have to sit back and think to see the grays many times. My instinctive reaction to 9-11 is to turn large areas of the middle east into glass. This very well might cure the islamic terrorist problem, but I have to stop and think, how many other even larger problems would it create?

      1. Bearcat, destroying the Middle East certainly would create problems, and it would not eliminate the threat of Islamic terrorism. As there are many Islamic radicals outside the Middle East simply destroying that one area would not work.

        This highlights one of the strange things involved in arguments with those who presently oppose war. Many had a similar visceral gut reaction on 9-11, i.e., the gut equivalent of ‘Hulk smash.’ Instead of thinking twice, and concluding that what is needed is to remove the cancer that is taking societies that were once were moving into the twentieth century and trying to turn them into a fictionalized vision of the ‘glorious’ middle ages, our ivory tower thinkers now say ‘War is not the answer.’

        What do they think the question is? If you think, as many of us do, it is: ‘Are you going to roll over and play dead while we impose our world vision upon ever increasing numbers of people, and ultimately you?’ then, if you do not want to live in their world vision, war might well be the only answer.

        1. I wasn’t meaning that it would cure it in the sense of destroying all Islamic terrorists, but more in the sense of fighting fire with fire. If it destroyed enough of them, the rest might think twice about attacking us. Then again we are talking about fanatics, and creating a huge crop of martyr’s could be counterproductive.

          I think we can both safely agree it is not an optimum solution.

          1. Yeah, still thinking of the wide spread distruction of an enemy does have its charms. One reason for certain SF and movies, no?

    3. I find that most folks making such rationalizations are from the “ivory tower” classes where they are protected from the results of their ideals by distance both physical and mental.

  10. Historically, the groups that didn’t fight were usually monks, friars, nuns, and priests. They didn’t forbid violence to others, though not using it themselves. They usually shared certain characteristics:

    1. They went somewhere without anybody who hadn’t signed on for dying for the faith, and without anything anybody could possibly want except useful skills and knowledge in their heads, and gave people lots of free good stuff and work — while always being willing to die or leave.

    2. They went to live somewhere in the middle of nowhere, preferably on top of a mountain or in a cave somewhere remote, where there was nothing anybody wanted, and they did everything from scratch. They also built very solid stone buildings and monastery walls as soon as they could, and tended to have stuff like wells inside the walls. Hospitality was granted to everyone, but usually not in the same building as the monastery proper. By the time you had stuff that people wanted, it was hard for them to get at it.

    3. They made themselves the single most useful person in the neighborhood if possible, and were thus protected by most and messed with by few. Often they were also related to people in the neighborhood who would protect them, also.

    4. Members of a religious group decide that while they won’t use deadly weapons, they are allowed to beat the heck out of people to teach the Golden Rule and protect the innocent. (Which can eventually lead to the military orders, which were either religious and okay with deadly weapons, or the knightly orders of helpful laymen who were also okay with deadly weapons.)

    A family has totally different priorities, because families are designed to make and protect people, and to make and use stuff and places in pursuit of goal number one. Also, you’re a lot less able to just hole up inside walls and get on with life. Logically, then, a family is much less likely to be able to practice nonviolence in any kind of prudent or sane manner. Families with kids, weak members, etc. can’t go out looking for martyrdom on purpose.

  11. Thank you, I remember when learning about Gandhi in school, my first thought was; Why didn’t they just kill him?

    There are only a few ways to peace:

    1. Peace through superior firepower

    2. Roman/Mongol peace ie ‘they made a desert and named it peace’

    3. Slavery

    4. Death

    My first choice is 1, my second choice 2, and my third choice 4, I will never choose slavery, no matter how many peaceniks claim it is the way to go.

    1. Gandhi was a British psyop — a political science version of the moon landings.

      Briefly: an industrial civilization cannot do imperialism. The “colonies” inevitably end up costing, not paying. That’s where the British were with India even before WWII, and afterward, with most of their industrial infrastructure in smoking ruins, they simply could not afford to support India — and India wasn’t capable of supporting them. It was necessary to engineer an exit, cast India loose on its own devices, but how to justify it? Simply cutting and running wouldn’t do the job, old boy.

      Enter Gandhi, politician, anti-Semite (and Axis sympathizer), but with a nice patter in “pacifist” rhetoric of the “if you’ll just do as I say it will all be peaceful” variety. Build him up into some Grey Eminence, make him (in the newspapers, at least) a Force Among the Nations; Great Britain thus didn’t retreat ignominiously from their inability to support their colony any more, they gave way to Morally Correct Teaching. Such nice fellows! Anyone defeated by Moral Correctness must at least be on the road to Good Ethics themselves!

      Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

    2. The reason they didn’t kill him was the British had a conscience, hidden though it may have seemed at times.

      When you’re dealing with a society of conscience, you use the tactics of Gandhi; when you’re dealing with one without conscience, you use the tactics of Bonhoefer. – Usually attributed to MLK Jr, although I can’t find a verifiable record of him actually saying it. Still, it’s sound advice.

      1. Not only do you need a society with a concience for MLKJr. style tactics, but usually you also need a Malcolm X to be successful. Malcolm X nailed it on the head when he said, “They will talk to Martin Luther King, because they don’t want to talk to me.”

  12. I’ve got at least three cases for picking death over chocolates.

    The weakest one is also the one least specific to me and my own values: When person exerts a certain amount of coercion on another person, it can be well worth one’s life to spend it spiting the first person. For this reason, if they force the choice, and are relying on people choosing chocolate, I think it might be worth my life to rob them of at least a little pleasure. Better to kill them, but that isn’t always possible.

    Plus, someone who would offer the choice of death or chocolates is breaking enough of the social contract in the first place that they cannot be trusted to deliver the choice of chocolates.

  13. 1) Most of the “evil” societies of history — and this’ll really bake your noodles — actually thought they were Doing Good. Dear Old Uncle Adi *actually* believed all that nonsense in _Mein Kampf_ (the book which illustrates why Good Editing is important — most people who have contact with it either tried to read it and failed to finish, or found it uninteresting and glazed over most of it; if it had been properly edited, more people would have read it, and realized “this guy’s a f***in’ *LOON*”, and dragged his paper-hanging ass off to a psycho ward).

    Thus, most of those societies fall under what I call “the _JAWS_ Rule”, expressed as: “Why does the shark have to be killed? It’s just doing what evolution has made it to do.” “And that is *exactly* why it has to be killed — it is too dangerous to be allowed to exist.”

    2) “If violence wasn’t your last resort, you failed to resort to enough of it.” [#6, _The Seventy Maxims of Maximally-Effective Mercenaries]

    1. “Why does the shark have to be killed? It’s just doing what evolution has made it to do.”

      I’m a member of a Yahoo group for people who raise chickens in suburban settings, and this was essentially one of the responses to another member asking for help with how to handle a coyote she had seen around her chicken coop (you know the type: we’re the invaders, we have no right to push everything out by moving in, we should just leave them alone, yada yada yada). Someone fortunately responded basically with, “Leaving them alone has allowed their population to increase to the point that they are now a danger to pets and small humans,” because I was having a hard time trying to figure out how to respond without calling the person an idiot, which I have found is a good way to keep people from listening. I don’t think it changed the other person’s mind, but maybe it will percolate in the back of their head and make some difference, eventually.

      1. We have an ecological niche and coyotes have an ecological niche. Us getting rid of critters that threaten our niche is just what we evolved to do. 🙂

        Seriously, though, it’s not like animals don’t kill each other or take steps to make other animals leave their territory. Why are some people convinced both that humans are no better than animals, and yet also that humans have less right to survive aggressively than earthworms? Or why are domesticated animals not allowed to be protected by us? Or are they under the impression that coyotes respond to litigation or poetry recitals, and will quietly die at a sarcastic word, like rats satirized by a medieval Irish poet?

        1. Wolves are starting to get bolder where I live. There still isn’t many of them, but since they have been almost totally safe from hunting for several wolf generations they aren’t all that scared of humans anymore.

          I’m willing to buy that they may not be all that dangerous to healthy adults, not under normal circumstances (lots of other prey, not many wolves), but they definitely are dangerous to our animals, and I wouldn’t place any bets when it comes to children, especially younger children.

          I like them. And that’s one of the reasons I think the packs which start to get too bold should be discouraged, by shooting some of their members. Because I suppose you can imagine what will happen if they do end up killing a child or two? Tragedy both ways – I do value a human child higher than a wolf, or even all wolves, but I would like to know they exist there in the forests and I don’t want us to return to the ‘destroy all of them’ mentality some of the older people still have. I do believe coexistence is possible – but only if we make sure they remember that humans are something they should always avoid, and that requires hunting, often enough that each of the new wolf generations learns the lesson personally.

          Those people who start protesting the second somebody suggests shooting a couple of wolves are not doing any favors to them.

          1. A reasoned response about wolves, your not asking for much are you? You are correct, and put out a well reasoned arguement for management of wolves, but will find few listeners on either side. I personally am of the ‘smoke a pack a day’ persuasion, and believe that there are more people on my side that will listen to a reasoned arguement like yours than there are on the side of those that believe wolves are noble, wild animals that only kill the weak and the sick, and are just sadly misunderstood. But you will find few listeners on either side, and most of those on my side that do listen do so simply out of facing reality, and knowing we are never going to get the opportunity to annihilate the wolves, so managing them is the best we can hope for.

            1. What I loved was the new age friend who said wolves were just victims of rumors and “don’t like the taste of human flesh.” She knew this, I presume, because she read Wolf Culinary Daily. Or perhaps because humans aren’t made of meat like other tasty animals.

              1. This is a common misconception. Wolves do like the taste of human flesh. But the wolf department of agriculture put humans at the top of the food pyramid for being full of fats and preservatives. So wolf dieticians recommend us as a “sometimes treat”, not an everyday staple.

              2. I believe the theory behind this claim is that the things we eat cause us to smell and taste bad to animals such as wolves. Regarding smell, I would point out the close relationship between wolves and dogs, and dogs love the smell of humans. In fact, the stinkier the better.

            2. Yep. They are predators, they kill what they can easily get. But they are smart, and can learn to avoid what is dangerous to them. I guess that’s the reason why they didn’t kill all that many people during the last century and a half, after firearms got good and killing them became easy to humans. They learned. But now, with the strict conservation laws, they are forgetting. And that’s bad. A human, even an adult, without a gun is easy prey to them, and sooner or later some of the ones now hunting deer, and pets, and sheep, practically in the middle of some villages near here will figure that out. In one case the aftermath – mostly eater deer carcass – was found about half a kilometer from the village school. A lot of the people living there are getting rather loud with their demands for somebody to do something, but most people live in the larger towns, they don’t have to deal with this personally, and so can afford to keep that ‘noble animals, leave them alone!’ attitude, and so far the protection groups are mostly winning. Politicians want to be re-elected.

              And yes, I don’t expect I will find many listeners, especially among those new agey ‘noble animals’ groups. I doubt they will change even when a human gets attacked. Maybe if a child gets killed, some of them, but probably even that won’t affect the more rabid animals lovers, they will just blame the parents for not looking after that child (and ‘noble animals suffered because of that’ – want to bet?).

              1. And it’s so damn frustrating when the people you do side with as to the end result turn out to be the enemy because they seem to be unable to deal with the real world, preferring to see just the rose colored fantasy version.

              2. Of course the wolves have forgotten their respect of Man; they have no written records and must learn everything anew with each generation. The elders don’t tend to pass along lessons that no longer seem relevant, and even when they do the pups ignore them.

                The solution is for the Wolf protectionists to organize and send out missionaries to live amongst the wolves, learning their language and developing a written form as the St Cyril did for the 9th Century Russians.

          2. After 9-11, when American Handwringers, LLC were asking “Why oh why don’t they like us?” I thought the more important question was “Why do they not fear us?” A little healthy fear in wolves of whatever species does much to preserve and maintain peaceful relations.

            1. I was going to say “How does this apply to foreign relations — think about it.” And you explained it.

              It reminds me of the Vampire in Monstrous regiment. He (!) wears a sword he can’t use, because it serves notice that he’s lethal so people don’t attack him. He wears a sword for other people’s protection.

              1. That works for USA, you should stay scary in order to keep others from making costly mistakes. Costly for both sides. But when countries like mine go for pacifism we will run a high risk of losing our independence at some point. May happen anyway if things go badly enough, but at least a bit less likely if it seems that the cost will be high to the aggressor.

                I like Russians as people, but Russia as a country scares me.

            2. Why don’t criminals try to mug Chuck Liddell? Because they know he can kick them from one end of the street to the other. In the end, this is what keeps the peace.

          3. They already are a threat to healthy adults. They’re just usually reported as “Coyote Attacks.”

            Wolves and coyotes are perfectly fertile; DNA suggests that “red wolves” are just a stable cross of the two, and if you add feral dog in the mix it’s really a mess.

        2. Or are they under the impression that coyotes respond to litigation or poetry recitals, and will quietly die at a sarcastic word, like rats satirized by a medieval Irish poet?

          Vogan poetry recitals maybe?

          I live in NC, which is not a natural habitat for coyotes. But we are getting coyotes and the coyotes, are displacing the foxes on the ecological food chain.

          (Sarcasm alert) I simply love the practice of live capture. I live in a neighborhood somewhat over-run by bunnies. People live capture them and take them down to a park in the next neighborhood over. Well, the people that live over there live capture them and release them … I am beginning to suspect that the bunnies are getting used to their commutes.

          When I was in Williamsburg VA some years ago I asked how the colonists dealt with bunnies and the like in the garden. The kindly docent picked up a rifle and, smiling, suggested, ‘Dinner.’ I liked that; I got the image of going into the garden to harvest ALL of your dinner.

          1. “Dinner” was what I was going to suggest, too. I obviously didn’t raise my boys right – they don’t want me to bring rabbit home for dinner.

            They don’t have problem with thinking about getting one of the wild turkeys that come to visit, though, even though I haven’t been able to do that yet.

          2. Actually NC isn’t naturally red fox habitat either (grey fox don’t seem to be nearly as affected by coyotes) since they are an imported species.

            I kept losing all my housecats to coyotes, I got rid of a few coyotes, and while there are still plenty of coyotes around my house, they seem to have temporarily got the picture. Anyways I still have the same housecats for the last three years. If I don’t remove a few coyotes each winter however I start losing cats again.

          3. Yeah, live capture is a feel-good policy that seldom works. A large percentage of animals have a homing instinct and when transported somewhere else and released they immediately head home unless the distances are truly immense. I could cite instances of this on animals from cougars, to bears, to sealions and whales.

            The ones that really bother me are when they livecapture problem animals and then go dump the problem in someone else’s backyard. A few years ago they were capturing problem Yellowstone grizzlies (aggressive, raiding garbage cans, and campsites) and hauling them over to Eastern Washington and dumping them. Of course shortly these bears were finding campsites and towns with lots of garbage cans to raid.

            1. My birth-county is the place they shipped those early-80s cougars that were caught after stalking joggers but before catching anyone. Don’t know if they still do it. One of my classmates’ mother was in charge of holding them for the forest service– they had two huge dog kennels for the purpose.
              Yes, I actually saw them, and yes, they were in use. Never have been too keen on large cats.

      2. If your “friend” views human as invasive species, then it is cruel to put out such irresistible temptations as chickens where the coyotes will notice them. Either accept some chicken loss to the coyotes as the price for invading their territory, give up on the idea of raising your own chickens in coyote territory or get a flippen clue.

        1. The one asking for advice wasn’t the one who viewed humans that way. It was in one of the responses, and I was happy to note that the majority of the responses were more in line with giving the coyotes a healthy respect for humans and their property, as well as pushing them back away from human habitations, and lowering their population so they would not need to expand their dietary repertiore..

  14. Most “pacifists” don’t want peace; they want to be spared war, as if the absence of war is the same as peace. It isn’t. True peace is not just about the absence of conflict, but rather deals with the presence of justice.

  15. Agree. And making things right as well as making things better is a complicated business, whereas marching around with a sign is easy (in a free society).

    Which is why people who are really interested in making peace usually have a lot of practical steps in mind for both sides and for themselves to do, whereas people who are just making political points or being passive-aggressive usually expect one side to do everything, with no help or accountability on the other side.

    I’m really not a very peace-y person, but somebody has to hold up this side of the argument… though I’m sure we all know this stuff, except maybe the more ignorant peacenik types.

    Anyway, most non-technical societies do designate certain people as not-fighters, and it’s not just those who need protection. Very often it’s a religious pollution statute against certain religious figures shedding human blood, or a certain group that works as go-betweens and is thus expected to traipse around unarmed. They are useful, particularly between societies that share important ideas about proper behavior and would rather not war during harvest or winter. (But of course, societies that can’t be trusted to share such ideas can’t be trusted with go-betweens.)

  16. In an article about Polish Hero Jan Karski, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Tuesday, a man who brought witness to the world in 1942 of the Nazi atrocities against the Jews, this quote seemed appropriate to the discussion here:

    Democratic societies demonstrated on this occasion as on many others, before and after, that they are incapable of understanding political regimes of a different character….Democratic societies are accustomed to think in liberal, pragmatic categories; conflicts are believed to be based on misunderstandings and can be solved with a minimum of good will; extremism is a temporary aberration, so is irrational behavior in general, such as intolerance, cruelty, etc. The effort needed to overcome such basic psychological handicaps is immense….Each new generation faces this challenge again, for experience cannot be inherited.

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