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By Anna

There is argued to be two to four types of pacifists in this world:

  1. Universal Pacifist who prohibits all killing
  2. Universal Pacifist who prohibits all violence
  3. Private Pacifist who prohibits personal violence and killing
  4. Anti-War Pacifist who allows self-defense, but against all types of war

To put anyone within the confines of a definition is difficult, but in order to develop a case for Christian pacifists (yes there are Christians not in support of military action!) here are some thoughts on what these four types of Pacifists might say from a Christian perspective:

Type I:  The Bible teaches a strong guidance for the sanctity of all life (Genesis 1:27). What many non-Christians or not-yet-Christians argue against is the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) stories and commands from God for the Israelites to destroy entire groups of people. The Old Testament is an important part of all Christian studies because God’s covenant is formed with Abraham in Genesis and expanded on as a New Testament Covenant from Jesus.

Type 2: The Sermon on the Mount as well as Jesus’ entire lifestyle is anti-violence.

Type 3: Augustine attempted to reconcile the ideas of the Sermon on the Mount with military force as an option. An acceptance throughout the Bible that communal defense is valued, but private violence/defense is wrong.

Type 4:  The most commonly used example for Anti-war Pacifists is WWII. These types would most likely agree that going into Germany was the best course of action, not only for the United States, but for the Jews. The problem Anti-war Pacifists face is if we do fight a defense war, what do we do with all the casualties and death of civilians?

I’m writing about pacifism today because of my continual confliction between “supporting the troops” and disagreeing with any involvement in military activity. How do we claim a belief in an all-loving God, yet kill? Whether it is the death of an innocent life or a military life, how can violence be an acceptable response to violence?

In spite of my research and projection of pacifism onto you, I can’t really say which type I am. I could never say that I would never inflict a violent act upon someone, though I hope I never do, but I am also very anti-war, though as soon as I say that I think about the violence and pure hatred of Hitler Germany in the 1930s and 40s. How can we reconcile our non-violence with violence? And what is it about humanity that requires us to be saved, but only through death?

By Anna

epln132lWhere does my generation stand in the face of protest? The Vietnam peacemakers transitioned the youth of this country from the enlisting patriots of World Wars I and II to global citizens recognizing the greater issues. What the Vietnam protesters of my father’s generation see as a catatonic waste of a young generation, we see as digital intercontinental vilification. Our action takes to the greatest force in the world: the Internet.

Last week, I wrote about the new “surge” campaign for Afghanistan in Bush tradition, which naturally increases the death toll not only for U.S. troops, but Afghan citizens as well. Death is final, yet the military makes a career out of it.

There is a war for every peacemaker. Some will chose to defend the deaths of U.S. citizens abroad, but others choose children in Sudan, teachers in Cambodia (circa 1975), mothers in Rwanda or Japanese in America.

I respect, research and admire those Vietnam protestors, but defend the lack of physical protests of my generation against the quagmires of Iraq and what will be Afghanistan because times change, and the youth adapt the quickest.

By Anna

23jk7771In the race for world power, President Obama promised to leave Iraq within the first 16 months of office. And it seemed as though most Americans were behind this plan, but where was the punditry and critique of the Afghan War during the election? Where is the inveighing against our part in any war?

Though it may not have been in vain that we entered Afghanistan in pursuit of Osama bin Laden, we have yet to recover his remains and barely remember his existence, but for Sept. 11.

According to McClatchy Newspapers, “the U.S.-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan now has lost more troops this year than in all of 2008, and August is on track to be the deadliest month for American troops there since U.S. operations began nearly eight years ago.”

Though the United States is not on its own in Afghanistan, it certainly has the most pull and clout with more U.S. troops occupying Afghanistan than there are people in my hometown of 55,000, which explains why foreign policy experts are beginning to wonder if Obama’s decisions aren’t just in the Bush tradition “with the difference being that Mr. Obama could be putting more American lives at risk to pursue a failed policy,” according to The New York Times.

When the president talks of war he talks of death. U.S. troops may be expendable, but Afghan citizens are not. It has been a long time since a war has been fought on the homeland and I wonder what would be done differently if Afghan citizens were of equal value to U.S. citizens. What if the war was in your city?

In total:

2008: 294 deaths in Afghanistan

2009 (from Aug. 25): 295 deaths in Afghanistan

By Anna

On Tuesday and Thursday I take the metro from Votosmarty U. to Battyany ter. No one makes extended eye contact with me, a quick glance and then look away. Barely an acknowledgement of your existence, just a concentration on going from A to B. I think my mom and sister would fit in here, I however, am extrinsic and feed off of smiles and friendly nods of hello.

The parliament building from castle hill

The parliament building from castle hill

As the escalator surfaces at Battyany ter. a church with green copper steeples emerges into view. You can turn around after stepping off of the escalator and see the magnificently gothic parliament building. I walk one block down, ring number 51 and say hello to Ilona, my language teacher. She let’s me in and I take the elevator to the fifth floor (though sixth for us in the United States because the first floor here is the ground level). The elevator doors are manual and this I forget everytime.

During my lesson we sit in chairs facing the parliament building. I ask Ilona why Hungarians do not make eye contact or say hello. She does not understand me initially. I explain further, that in the United States people may nod or say hello in passing. She nods and says it is a cultural difference and that it is only a surface thing and that young people are not like this. She tells me to go to Godot ter. where the young people are.

Though I understand the cultural difference, I still do not know why. That afternoon I learn about Hungary’s last 50 years while at The Terror Museum. The Nazis invaded, the Soviets invaded and they clashed in the middle of Hungary, who only wanted to remain neutral. But Hungary doesn’t joke about knowing how to bury their dead without reason—hundreds of thousands were killed and deported during WWII and for years after. 200,000 Jews left, 11,000 have returned since.

Faces of those who died from 1944-1967 from The Terror Museum

Faces of those who died from 1944-1967 from The Terror Museum

The Soviets won and during their occupation (1944-1991) if anyone made eye contact with a Soviet guard they could be under suspicion and would be taken away to the cellar prison of the Hungarian Arrow Cross Government (Communist) on Andrassy U.

Hungarians were trained to avoid eye contact for decades. I had guessed that the reason for avoiding eye contact was the fear of intimacy, but it was actually a cultured fear of abuse or death from a culture (the U.S.S.R.) that has had centuries of abuse itself.

Fear and internalization continues in Eastern Europe, but today, Hungarians celebrate 20 years of freedom from the Iron Curtain (1989) with passivity and pride.

By Anna

The Kachin tribes of Myanmar live in the hills bordering China. They have called for peace with Myanmar’s government, yet their army is strong enough to defeat the Myanmar government.

When did peace and military strength become one? The dualism between what we think we need and what we actually need is startling. Myanmar has eight armed ethnic groups. Though the militant government antagonizes these groups, there are no ethnic groups without their own military power (as each ethnic group falls into one of the eight). These ethnic groups, ironically, are trying to gain influence by the very means their enemy gains influence.

Our role in this ethnic war in Myanmar, is at least to recognize Western cultures’ influence that has made Myanmar the mess it is today. These ethnic groups have ravaged for civil war since 1948, the year Myanmar was “free” from British rule. Britain steps aside and many worlds fall apart. That’s not to say in hindsight that Britain should have stayed, but rather that it never should have entered, spreading its empirical wings of desire across cultures it did not understand or care to.

Thomas Fuller, writer for The New York Times, reported: “During the Cold War, China, Thailand and the United States supplied arms and other assistance to some borderland (ethnic) groups. Now commercial interests, including many shady businesses, have replaced ideological ones.”

How arrogant (and hilarious) of Fuller to even suggest in his article that we, the United States, ever even had ideological interests in the ethnic groups of Myanmar. Our ideology lies in money and maintaining power by whatever means we can, even if that means selling arms to ethnic groups calling for peace. Perhaps we sold them arms to ease our own conscience, after all, weren’t we building up nuclear warheads for peace too?