The View Of Pacifism Essay

1775 words - 7 pages

The View of Pacifism
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The question of whether or not going to war is appropriate is a pragmatic question that causes controversial answers. A great range of opinions exists to answer this question. The idea that war is never appropriate is called pacifism. Although pacifists have several beliefs in common, different varieties and different variations exist. "Pacifism is not a single unitary theory about war and peace but rather a collection of related theories… there are different varieties of pacifism" (Teichman 1). Pacifists portray a general rejection to the violence that takes place during war.

Particular religious beliefs urge us to consider violence to be wrong. An example is Buddhism. Buddha even believed that it was always wrong to kill animals. He held this conviction even in the case of attack, when killing an animal might be the only means of survival (Teichman 10). However, hating violence is not the same thing as pacifism. Pacifists are opposed to violence that takes place during a war. The word "pacifism" literally means "anti-war-ism" (Teichman 4).

Civilians completely uninvolved in a war effort are at a high risk of being killed or injured during a war simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. An example of this fact was the bombing that took place in Japan during World War II. Thousands were killed and injured in this incident. In her article, "Damages Caused by Atomic Bombs," Jane Mothra describes the devastating effects on the Japanese citizens during the bombing that took place in World War II. The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. The population dropped drastically, with approximately 140,000 deaths due to the bomb (Mothra, par. 6). Numerous injuries plagued those fortunate enough to survive. The bomb released thermal heat so intense that individuals 3.5 kilometers away from the bursting point were severally burned, and in some bases, blinded (Mothra, par. 6). Most of us would agree that citizens of Japan who had nothing to do with the war effort were innocent. Lives were forever altered by injuries and deaths. Pacifists are extremely opposed to those deaths, which they view to be unnecessary and unfair.

Pacifists believe, however, that even soldiers fighting in combat can be innocent victims when they are killed in battle. According to Robert L. Holmes, even if one assumes that a war is vindicated, only one side at a time can be acting justly. It is impossible that both sides can be in the right. A war exists because one side is in the wrong. Therefore, any person on the side who is fighting for an appropriate, or "right," cause is an innocent person. That means, "the killing of anyone who has done no wrong relative to the war in question is, in the relevant sense, the killing of an innocent person" (186). If the war is valid and the cause of battle appropriate, then the soldiers whose lives are taken are just as innocent as the civilians who...

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