This I Believe

Pola - Bayville, New York
Entered on November 8, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: morality

I believe in the necessity of pacifism. A few days ago, in a rare moment of clarity I thought, ‘fighting doesn’t make sense.’ It was the discovery of a five-year-old, one of those rare ‘duh’ moments that seem so logical when you think them, but which, upon later consideration, seem childish and naive.

At school, I am a part of a club called Conscientious Objectors. Originally, I joined the group partly out of curiosity, partly because I thought it would bolster my leftist political beliefs, and partly in selfish concern for my own well-being. In light of the constant news of suicide bombings and mounting death toll in Iraq, and the impending doom of a possible war with Iran, I thought, ‘Gee, it would be convenient to be pacifist.’ If I were to declare myself a Conscientious Objector, I could avoid being in the line-of-fire if there were to be a draft in the future.

Interestingly enough, I find that recently, my reason for becoming a pacifist has shifted from that of former selfishness and cowardice to the greater issue of morality. Of course, there’s no denying that I’m still quite selfish, and no less a coward than I was when I joined the Conscientious Objectors last fall, but still, there’s something deeper to my beliefs now.

I find myself considering the question of the morality of violence more and more. I think about the human tendency to strike back when hit. It is so easy, so natural to hit back. In battle, it is considered heroic to fight, to kill ‘the enemy’. But how can fighting be considered heroic when violence is simply an animal reflex? No; true heroism is exhibited by the individual who shows restraint.

In reality, pacifism is much harder to practice than preach. I have never seen war. I try to imagine living in a war-torn country and seeing one of my parents killed before my own eyes; what would I do? Undoubtedly, I would fight back. I would seek revenge; I would pick up the gun and pull the trigger. I am not above killing or violence.

This saddens me. How can I hope to be a pacifist if I can consider killing another human being? Much less, how can I convince others of the futility of violence if I myself can imagine committing murder?

There is no sufficient explanation to my questions. I welcome the day when I will be able to say; absolutely nothing justifies acts of violence and killing. But until then, I look to teachers, friends, books—sources of inspiration, places where I pick up bits of wisdom that I compile and store internally. I do this in the hope that I will one day be able to stand behind my word and my belief that pacifism is my, and mankind’s only option.