Friday, January 22, 2010

Pacifism and Non Violence (2)

Leo Tolstoi on Non-Violence

A Christian does not quarrel with any one, does not attack any one, nor use violence against one; on the contrary, he himself without murmuring bears violence; but by this very relation to violence he not only frees himself, but also the world from external power.

Every man, in refusing to take part in military service or to pay taxes to a government which uses them for military purposes, is, by this refusal, rendering a great service to God and man, for he is thereby making use of the most efficacious means of furthering the progressive movement of mankind toward that better social order which it is striving after and must eventually attain.

Violence produces only something resembling justice, but it distances people from the possibility of living justly, without violence.

This difficulty lies in the impossibility of making the Christian faith (which those who form the governments profess with particular emphasis) accord with armies composed of Christians trained to slay. However much you may pervert the Christian teaching, however much you may hide its main principles, its fundamental teaching is the love of God and one's neighbor; of God - that is the highest perfection of virtue, and of one's neighbor - that is all men without distinction. And therefore it would seem inevitable that we must repudiate one of the two, either Christianity is love of God and one's neighbor, or the State with its armies and wars.

 I know how the ancient Christians who refused military service were executed by the Romans for doing so (these refusals are described in the lives -of the saints). I know how the Paulicians were, every one of them, destroyed for the same conduct. I know how the Bogomili were persecuted, and how the Quakers and Mennonites suffered for this same cause. I know also how, at the present time, in Austria, the Nazarenes are languishing in prisons; and how people have been martyred in Russia. But the fact that all these martyrdoms have not abolished war in no way proves that they have been useless. To say that this means is not efficacious because it has already been applied for a long time and yet war still exists, is the same as to say that in spring the sun's warmth is not efficacious because the ground has not yet become bare of snow, and flowers have not yet sprung up.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I read The Kingdom of God is Within You last year and found it very interesting! I'm not on board with it 100%, but it's a nice contrast to the Dominionist Christian culture that seems popular today.