Is Wendell Berry Making Me A Pacifist?!?
The short answer is "probably not." But man! I will say, his essay "On Peaceableness Towards Enemies" is something to wrestle with; especially for war-mongering Neo-cons!
Over the past year I've begun to see the brilliance to the libertarian principle of "non-aggression." The basic concept to non-aggression is that nobody has the right to take anything from anyone else by the use of violent force. Wendell Berry seems to really echo this concept in his essay "On Peaceableness Towards Enemies" from Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community (a collection of Wendell Berry essays).
What I'd like to do in this post is simply share some of the most powerful quotations from this essay with you all. I found, as I read this essay, that many of the deepest presuppositions the Modern West surround the concept of war. Consider the following as an extra dose of "food for thought:"
How acts of violence were to be satisfactorily limited or controlled by our own acts of greater violence has not been explained. (pg. 70)
Peace is not the result of war, any more than love is the result of hate or generosity the result of greed. (pg. 71)
Anyone who uses tools can testify that results invariably become more complex and less predictable as force is increased. (pg. 73)
If we are the most wealthy and powerful country in the world, we are also the most wasteful, both of nature and of humanity. (pg. 74, emboldening mine)
Even wars fought "for freedom" diminish freedom. War is obsolete, in short, because it can no longer produce a net good, even to the winner. (pg. 77)
Modern war and modern industry are much alike, not just in their technology and methodology but also in this failure of imagination. It is no accident that they cause similar devastations. There can be little doubt that industrial disfigurements of nature and industrial diminishment's of human beings prepare the soul of nations for industrial war in which places become "enemy territory," people become "targets" or "collateral casualties," and bombing sorties become "turkey shoots." (pg. 82)
In times of war, our leaders always speak of their prayers. They wish us to know that they say prayers because they wish us to believe that they are deeply worried and that they take their responsibilities seriously. Perhaps they believe or hope that prayer will help. But within the circumstances or war, prayer becomes a word as befuddled in meaning as "liberate" or "order" or "victory" or "peace". These prayers are usually understood to be Christian prayers. But Christian prayers are made to or in the name of Jesus, who loved, prayed for, and forgave his enemies and who instructed his followers to do likewise. (pg. 84, emboldening mine)
Ignoring the Gospels' command to be merciful, forgiving, loving, and peaceable, our leaders have prayed only for the success of their arms and policies and have thus made for themselves a state religion—exactly what they claim to fear in "fundamentalist" Islam. But why God might particularly favor a nation whose economy is founded foursquare on the seven deadly sins is a mystery that has not been explained. (pg. 85)
The logic of retribution implies no end and no hope. (pg. 86)
Peaceableness is the ability to act to resolve conflict without violence. (pg. 87)
The most alarming sign of the state of our society now is that our leaders have the courage to sacrifice the ives of young people in war but have not the courage to tell us that we must be less greedy and less wasteful. (pg. 92)
Food for thought.