I had the experience tonight of meeting someone for the first time and the conversation turned towards war. I did not turn it that way. It is surprising, when you pay attention, how often conversations turn to war.
In the course of this conversation it became known to all involved that I was a pacifist. As is usual, I was the only one. And as is usual, a man proceeded to assail me with a line of conversation predicated on the assumption that my conviction is:
We will leave aside the inherent irrationality of destroying things, including life, with the hope of gain, the impracticality of blowing things up as a political method and the questionable wisdom of putting fellow citizens’ lives at risk to defend the integrity/pride/borders/honour of a nation state. Instead, we will consider the fact that once this person’s laser eyes turned on me, I realised what I was in for.
New ‘Friend’: “You say you are a pacifist, but what would you do if it was YOUR children?”
Kevin: “Ha ha ha. Good question. I don’t have children. So how’s about that local sports team?”
New ‘Friend’: “But if you had someone who was pointing a gun at your wife, would you just let them shoot?”
Kevin: “I’ll tell you who I wouldn’t let shoot! Clint Eastwood. He is a good film man, ain’t he, buddy??”
New ‘Friend’: “Imagine this. My wife is tied up, my children are at the mercy of an intruder. You would say I don’t have a right to defend them?”
Kevin: “I would prefer not to imagine this. Do you know how weird it is that you are asking me to think about such horrendous things. And for what it is worth, as a Christian, I don’t do quandary ethics. I think ethics is about living a rich, flourishing life, not about solving problems. I can’t tell you what you can do, but I know how my wife and I want to live our lives, informed by Jesus.”
New ‘Friend’: “You see! You see! This is why you pacifists are so irrational. No! More! You are immoral! I consider it my moral obligation in that situation to defend my people, even violently. Even LETHALLY!”
As he rants, Kevin leaves, thinking that Stanley Hauerwas is right when he says that for Christians there are things worse than death. For example, having to listen to just war folk try to convert you to the Good News of people dying.
Your Correspondent, He is a stabbing robot