Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dear Phineas | Bill Ayers

Dear Phineas | Bill Ayers:

Dear Phineas

Dear Phineas:

Your letter finally reached me here in Chicago.
Thank you for writing.

Sounds like your eighth-grade research project is generating a lot of important thinking and insights.

People often confuse pacifism with non-violent direct action or civil disobedience.

Pacifism is a philosophy and a guide to living, and there’s much to admire about it. It asks us to look deeply and reverently at all of life, to respect the humanity of each person we encounter, to love everyone including proximate strangers and folks we’ll never know, and to seek balance and peace in relation to one another and all living things and the earth itself. That’s a pretty good start, don’t you think? We look to pacifists like Mahatma Gandhi  with a bit of awe.

But it’s only a start for finding your way through a vast and complicated history, and as a total world view, pacifism has its limits, as does every other belief system (religious or secular) when carried to its orthodox extreme. Gandhi, for example, urged Britain in 1940 to lay down its arms, to stop fighting Hitler, arguing that British resistance would be morally superior if the British people allowed themselves to be overrun by Hitler and yet  maintained their refusal of allegiance to evil. And in 1946—after the Holocaust and the millions of innocent lives thrown into the furnaces of war—he answered a question few pacifists ever want to face: What about the Jews of Europe? Gandhi answered forthrightly: the Jews of Europe Dear Phineas | Bill Ayers: