Stephen Kahn

In Hard to tell on October 3, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I started out with good intentions this week. I would be positive and peaceful. Here on Whidbey Island, people are sure we can live in peace and harmony and adore nature. Once a month I go to the Transition Whidbey potluck. TW in a way is a little grim because they think things are going to get dicey when we run out of oil, but their slant on preparing for surviving such events is to “re-skill” and grow and preserve food and all work together so the collapse of civilization if it comes will be green ad cheerful and we will all sit and stroke our friendly chickens as they cheerfully lay eggs in our laps.

Our twice-a-week local newspaper is mostly upbeat and positive, telling us about good local events and activities. However, for the last several months the front page of most issues have provided coverage of a scandalous murder story. In a convoluted and peripheral way the hair salon where I get my hair cut is involved, though I am not worried about my hair dresser being careless with scissors near my head

I subscribe to Harper’s Magazine. A few months ago it carried an article arguing for pacifism. For many people skeptical of pacifism, a common slogan is “What about Hitler and the Holocaust? It was necessary to take up arms to defeat the Axis powers during World War II.”

The author of the Harper’s article argued that the Jews could have been rescued without going to war. I am still skeptical, but the article was well written and well argued. I wasn’t really convinced, but it was the best argument for pacifism I remember coming across.

At the time I read it, I was involved with a Transition Whidbey project to start a local credit union. I was working with two people, Duke and Bev. (Duke has since died.) It was clear to me that both were quite opposed to war. Duke had served in the Korean War, and Bev (who like me has Jewish ancestry) had demonstrated against the Vietnam War.

I called attention to the article to Bev thinking she would be pleased to see a strong pro-pacifistic argument. Her response was something along the lines of I don’t need to read it. I am completely against war no matter what. I dropped the topic but I am not convinced by the I am against violence no matter what argument.

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