Southern Illinois University Carbondale E.S. Brightman said that both individuals and communities have moral experience, a proposition more easily understood concretely than abstractly (Brightman 1938, 5764). Regarding violence, it takes whole communities to build bombers, but it only takes a few individuals with box cutters to turn a plane into a bomb. As President Bush realizes, either could be an act of war, but as he probably does not realize, either could be construed as terrorism as well. Brightman's postulate is thus illustrated in the terrible arena of violence, and it connects his pacifism with Martin Luther King Jr.'s nonviolent social action. However, the sword cuts both ways. A consistent argument for nonviolent action must deal not only with Bull Conner in Alabama but also with Adolf Hitler in Germany. Violence is a cancer. Insofar as both societies and individuals are persons, violence destroys both and perpetuates itself. Like cancer, which sometimes is overcome through damaging treatments like radiation and chemotherapy, sometimes violence is overcome only with more violence. For this reason, I will argue that absolute pacifism, while ideal, is not tenable in a world where violence exists. Though Brightman and King rightly observe that violence damages
The Journal of Speculative Philosophy – Penn State University Press
Published: Aug 23, 2004
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