Conflict, Pacifism, and the Possibility of Freedom From Both.

Via Benjamin Riggs
on Jun 24, 2011
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An Introduction.

Few people if any are “pro-war.” The pro-war label is applied to those individuals–both revolutionaries and heads of state alike—who see war as a viable solution, but the term itself is a bit misleading. Those individuals who argue that war is a viable solution see it as a tool or mechanism through which peace can be obtained. They do not simply cling to war for the sake of war; rather they justify war as a means capable of creating peace.

On the other side of the fence there is the opposition. They are those individuals who oppose war or armed conflict in all of its manifestations. They see war as outdated, and these people are often described as “anti-war.” However, they also wish for stability and peace. Though it is sometimes the case, not everyone who is opposed to war just sits around wishing for peace. There are those individuals who work hard to create peace and stability in an other wise chaotic and unstable world.

In the same way that republicans and democrats want what is best for the country, disagreeing only about how to achieve this end, both schools of thought—pro-war and anti-war—agree that a peaceful and harmonious planet is the destination. The disagreement lies in method—how do we go about achieving this end?

Regardless of what side of the fence we find ourselves, we can all agree on one point: We all want peace; no one wants suffering. Once we have transcended the sensational talking points it is plain to see that everyone is trying to get to the same place. Those who are labeled “anti-war” believe that peace is obtainable right now without the use of armed conflict, while those who are painted as “pro-war” are simply saying that as a species we have a ways to go before peace can be had, and the vehicle we must utilize in order to traverse the distance between the present moment and the stated goal of peace is war. Realizing that both sides are working towards the same end provides a common ground upon which we can meet and begin to investigate not only the nature of the problems we as a species face, but the effectiveness of the solutions we choose to apply to these problems.

Recognizing this common ground is essential. No real progress will ever be made so long as we continue to get caught up in demonizing the opposition. The intention of this 10 week cooperative inquiry is to move beyond the sensational rhetoric of corporate news and delve into, not only the nature of the problems we face and the solutions we may apply to these problems, but also to question our common objective. In the coming weeks we will ask such questions as: Is either war or the political structures at our disposal capable of producing peace? Is pacifism a vehicle which can effectively deliver us to our chosen destination? Finally, “What does peace or the absence of violence look like? Hopefully this online investigation will serve as a thought experiment that enables the reader to explore conflict, pacifism, and the possibility of freedom from both.

Topics of Discussion

Week 1:  Conflict in a Nut-shell

Week 2: War as a Symptom and the Symptoms of War

Week 3: The Governing Dynamics of War

Week 4: A Shackled Institution

Week 5: When Life Hands You Lemons Make Lemonade- Then Sell It!

Week 6: Missing the Boat

Week 7: Dissecting Truth

Week 8: Investigating the Investigator

Week 9: Life Beyond “My” Life

Week 10: A Pathless Destination

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About Benjamin Riggs

Ben Riggs is the author of Finding God in the Body: A Spiritual Path for the Modern West. He is also the director of the Refuge Meditation Group in Shreveport, LA and a teacher at Explore Yoga. Ben writes extensively about Buddhist and Christian spirituality on Elephant Journal, and his blog. Click here to listen to the Finding God in the Body Podcast. To keep up with all of his work follow him on Facebook or Twitter.


5 Responses to “Conflict, Pacifism, and the Possibility of Freedom From Both.”

  1. ARCreated says:

    well the first thing I felt is I disagree with the beginning — I really do think there are pro war people….whether for the economic boost, the possibility of glory, the inability to see any other way…but I do think some people enjoy conflict. You can see this at the microcosmic level in certain relationships.

    I am fundamentally pro peace- anti war… I believe that only peace can bring true peace, only love can bring love. HOWEVER that being said I don't think we are fully capable YET. Again I use the idea of relationships until we fundamentally understand forgiveness and understanding on a personal level I don't see how it is possible on a global level. We are still resource based (ie I want what they have, they can't have more, I want more etc) Again until we completely believe that there is enough for everyone and that everyone deserves the same opportunities I don't see how violence can yet be avoided. BECAUSE although pacifism is a lovely idea I don't think we can sit idly by why people are abused or tormented…and if someone only speaks the language of power and violence all our nice pacifism gets us no where. A tyrant can't be talked down…someone who let's their people starve and suffer can't be complacently allowed to continue…We just aren't that evolved yet.
    I believe we are moving in that direction I think it is possible in the future, but I think we have many steps to go before that is possible.

  2. BenRiggs says:

    Well, do you believe that those who like war or conflict for the sake of war and conflict enjoy the conflict? Feel more comfortable in conflict? If so, then the question is why? I think that the Bush administration admitted, on some level that this was the case when they said, "We are taking the fight to the enemy… If we are fighting on their turf then we can't fight here." This suggests that they are using war to create security or peace, even if it is a very limited idea of peace personal peace or peace for america. There may be some people who fight for no reason other to fight, but I think this applies to the huge minority, and is an over simplification of the issue at hand. People who fight–whether in a relationship or in war–are fighting for reasons, which suggests that war is a means and not an end.
    That said, I think everybody is pro-peace.

  3. ARCreated says:

    No I really do think people enjoy the conflict and yes feel more comfortable with conflict. Why? well that's a whole other Oprah, insecurity, power and/or control issues and although I don't know the numbers I do think it's more than we realize…it seems, as I look around, that there are great many of people that derive satisfaction from conflict and maybe even distrust peace.
    Even in business I saw many people that seemed to create a problem – for some I think it's a matter of feeling like they did something.
    In my estimation if people were really pro-peace they would be quicker to look for peaceful resolutions. I think people like to fight and I think this is evident in our sports and in the way we do business – it's about being top dog not living peacefully.
    It's my opinion that those of us that do like/want/seek peace need to be able to see that not everyone is wired the same – and maybe just maybe the world needs the fighters as well as the peacers? and only in seeing that not everyone is wired the same can we have a truly meaningful conversation – for if we make the presumption that everyone wants/likes peace and by chance that isn't true any conversation we have will be moot.

  4. Eric says:

    something my teacher has said: "Peace is conflict rightly considered. War is peace wrongly considered."
    (~Tenshin Reb Anderson)

  5. BenRiggs says:

    I agree. The next ten weeks will be a bunch of considering!!! Thanks for sharing that Eric.