It’s back to my mother’s wisdom for me. She had a way to cut through the BS in life and uncomplicate things that I hope to have learned from her. (That said, of course, there’s the quote about answers being “simple, easy, and wrong”. It’s a balance). I have really struggled this past week with the whole Syrian Chemical Weapons attack on civilians and Trump’s resultant attack on Syria, seemingly without a clue about what to do next or what it all means. Mom’s thought is also one to deal with a general malaise that hovers over our society and shows how far off the world is right now, except in certain odd, experienced places.
Here’s the thought: “If you need to beat somebody up to prove your point, you probably have a weak argument”. The bigger the monster, the more the violence, the worse their cause.
I don’t know much about Assad or his regime, but if he has to kill 500,000 of the people he rules, it’s a safe bet he hasn’t won their hearts and minds. Their is no intellectual argument that can be made for his being in power. He’s not better than those he’s killed. He’s not smarter, he’s not faster, he’s not more faithful or in control of himself and, if he hadn’t done the killing in the past, he wouldn’t have to continue doing it now. Whatever Assad is selling, if that many people aren’t buying it, he has to be one messed up guy.
The same applies to Trump and his allies, the fascists, the “alt right”, and neo-cons everywhere. Also, leftist dictators, White supremacists, bullies of any sort, and people that beat up their partners or their children. It’s all the same thing. Here’s the thing: if, for example, White people are superior, people should want to be them. People should admire them because their cause and their behavior are obviously the best thing since sliced bread. But people don’t think that, and in their quest to make people believe them, they have to be violent. There’s a quote by, I think, HG Wells that says, “violence is for people who have run out of ideas”.
The only reason to hit someone is if you think they’re a danger to you. If you believe that someone else is stronger than you, and wants to hurt you, there’s already a problem. It’s their problem. They are already showing themselves to have less moral high ground/self-control than you. If they are stronger than you, but not threatening you, and you still fear them, you have got a problem. If you go beat them up first, as pre-violent “self-defense”, you know you’ve got a problem. You’re weak, wrong, or both.
People co-exist all the time without hurting each other. Generally, there is no reason to fight, and most people know this. People who are given respect ought to have earned it. If you’re in power, it ought to be because people want you there and believe in you.
So, bring out the tanks, warships, weapons, fists, nunchucks, guns, and what have you. I still don’t respect you, and you know it.
How do I know this? As we approach Easter, and Good Friday, I remember the man who changed the world the most and did it forever. Across time and continents, this man is still spoken of today and he never hit anyone, ever. That’s strength. Assad, Trump, Kim Jong Due, Hitler, and every punk, thug, spouse beater, and terrorist will fade in time, will not be remembered, and certainly not worshipped — and they know it. Gandhi broke up the British empire without an army. King broke up Jim Crow — at least for a while– without firing a shot. They won hearts and minds. Recently, generals in the Trump administration have said things like, “If you don’t fund diplomacy, you’ll have to spend a lot more on bullets” and “PBS and the arts make us safer than weapons”. These are men who know what they’re talking about. They have been there. People who haven’t have no ground to stand on when they say “violence wins”. They are idiots. They know not of what they speak. Eisenhower was the same way.
Anyone who thinks war is the answer hasn’t seen history. Real power comes from having a good idea and having people willingly follow you. That’s respect. That’s power. That’s winning hearts and minds. That’s what we need to be about if we want to be the greatest … anything.
Oh, and by the way, you could replace the word “violence” with the word “cheating” and it applies as well. Just saying. If that shoe fits, wear it.
Resisting with peace,