The Conflicted Pacifist

One of my favorite quotes is by Isaac Asimov, from the first Foundation novel: “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” In a single sentence, he encapsulates much of my belief as a pacifist. People become violent when they run out of options, when all other avenues of recourse — argument, the judicial system, the political process — are closed to them. Violence should always be the last, somber resort, and should never be glorified. It’s a philosophy I try to embody in my writing.

I first came in touch with the modern peace movement about fifteen years ago, around the same time I joined the Unitarian Universalist (UU) church. There’s a great deal of overlap and bidirectional influence between the church and the movement, although UU is not explicitly pacifist. Given UU’s liberal Christian roots (along with the Quakers), it’s no surprise that many UUs are also pacifists.

Despite my personal philosophy, there’s a vast gulf between myself and the modern pacifist movement. I don’t feel that the peace movement has done any good, definitely not since Operation Iraqi Freedom, and may have hurt its own cause.