Conflict, Pacifism, and the Possibility of Freedom From Both.

An Introduction.

Few people if any are “pro-war.” The pro-war label is applied to those individuals–both revolutionaries and heads of state alike—who see war as a viable solution, but the term itself is a bit misleading. Those individuals who argue that war is a viable solution see it as a tool or mechanism through which peace can be obtained. They do not simply cling to war for the sake of war; rather they justify war as a means capable of creating peace.

On the other side of the fence there is the opposition. They are those individuals who oppose war or armed conflict in all of its manifestations. They see war as outdated, and these people are often described as “anti-war.” However, they also wish for stability and peace. Though it is sometimes the case, not everyone who is opposed to war just sits around wishing for peace. There are those individuals who work hard to create peace and stability in an other wise chaotic and unstable world.
In the same way that republicans and democrats want what is best for the country, disagreeing only about how to achieve this end, both schools of thought—pro-war and anti-war—agree that a peaceful and harmonious planet is the destination. The disagreement lies in method—how do we go about achieving this end?
Regardless of what side of the fence we find ourselves, we can all agree on one point: We all want peace; no one wants suffering. Once we have transcended the sensational talking points it is plain to see that everyone is trying to get to the same place. Those who are labeled “anti-war” believe that peace is obtainable right now without the use of armed conflict, while those who are painted as “pro-war” are simply saying that as a species we have a ways to go before peace can be had, and the vehicle we must utilize in order to traverse the distance between the present moment and the stated goal of peace is war. Realizing that both sides are working towards the same end provides a common ground upon which we can meet and begin to investigate not only the nature of the problems we as a species face, but the effectiveness of the solutions we choose to apply to these problems.
Recognizing this common ground is essential. No real progress will ever be made so long as we continue to get caught up in demonizing the opposition. The intention of this 10 week cooperative inquiry is to move beyond the sensational rhetoric of corporate news and delve into, not only the nature of the problems we face and the solutions we may apply to these problems, but also to question our common objective. In the coming weeks we will ask such questions as: Is either war or the political structures at our disposal capable of producing peace? Is pacifism a vehicle which can effectively deliver us to our chosen destination? Finally, “What does peace or the absence of violence look like? Hopefully this online investigation will serve as a thought experiment that enables the reader to explore conflict, pacifism, and the possibility of freedom from both.

Topics of Discussion

Week 1:  Conflict in a Nut-shell
Week 2: War as a Symptom and the Symptoms of War
Week 3: The Governing Dynamics of War
Week 4: A Shackled Institution
Week 5: When Life Hands You Lemons Make Lemonade- Then Sell It!
Week 6: Missing the Boat
Week 7: Dissecting Truth
Week 8: Investigating the Investigator
Week 9: Life Beyond “My” Life
Week 10: A Pathless Destination
This discussion will take place on elephantjournal.com

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