The Art of Pacifism

Pacifism surely is an art. Life and the universe are filled with conflict and contradiction. If we do not embrace conflict, we will never grow as people or know life as it really is.

A pacifist’s attitude cannot be one of passivity or quietism; “Turn the other cheek” is an excuse to accept mistreatment and does nothing to create peace in the world; it just maintains a tolerance of violence. Pacifism cannot ignore or deny violence. Nor can it merely tolerate violence. It must oppose violence without reverting to aggressive means. It must propose peace as a creative and dynamic option, not as a passive default.

Pacifism requires a warrior’s attitude, standing upright and buoyant, but not rigid and not falling to external or internal violence. Like the martial art Aikido, pacifism doesn’t provoke conflict but actively meets and neutralises it. No provocation is needed, as conflict always exists in the world and in our lives.

Pacifism is about choice and picking your battles where possible. Our choice of relationships and professions are our battlefields, and if we don’t choose well, we will inevitably find ourselves constantly at war. A pacifist should know how to avoid war, or else be well prepared for it.

War happens when all options run out. It is an act of desperation, when we throw out our constructive principles because there is nothing else we can do or feel we can do. This is why we need imagination and creativity. We need to imagine multiple possibilities of peace and have the creativity to carry them out.

There is always a way of preventing conflict devolving into violence, of transforming aggression into creative energy. We won’t always succeed, but pacifism is a dynamic process, not a static dogma – it requires some honest self-reflection. As long as we are constantly expanding possibilities, we are constantly creating possibilities of peace.

Peace Triad

Three gateways to peace: humility, vision and creativity.

By setting aside personal interests for the greater good, holding to a vision that guides us on our way and responding to the challenges that arise with inexhaustible creativity, we can have peace.

The Druid’s Peace Moon

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Every full moon, the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids encourages its members to conduct rituals or meditations for peace (for more see here). In this vein, I am going to offer each full moon a quote for peace. Enjoy!
Yours in the peace of the Grove,
Adam