Tuesday, October 16

I got this email regarding my post on 10.13:

Diane, you might remind Sean of a few wars that affected change, permanently:

The revolutionary War, the civil war and World war II. Then ask whether him whether he speaks German, English or Japanese, and whether he owns any slaves or knows anyone who does.


my reply:

in my first email i said:

'war/violence is extremely limited because it only works in the short term and it never changes anyone.'

you make reference, Jim, to some very big changes.

i still stand by my conviction, however, that these are small changes relative to the personal change that is far more desirable. sure, we can break free from the crown, free slaves, and stop facism. these are good things to do.

but Jefferson was still a slave owner and a sketchy (power trips (cf 'Undaunted Courage', eg), etc.), though brilliant, guy. and America was still a nation with slavery.

until the Civil War. yes, the North set the slaves free. but most whites were still very racist, even (maybe especially) in the North. more complete civil rights didn't come until MLK. and we still have profound racism today, not to mention classism and real cultural conflict. (as i noted in my first email, Wilberforce helped legislate an end to slavery in England without war.)

we stopped the facists. that was a good thing to do. we stopped Hitler's power mad expansion and Holocaust. however, we didn't change anyone's convictions about nationalism or racism. in fact, we were allies of necessity with Stalin who killed more of his own people than Hitler killed Jews.

this world is a messy place. we should always remember the law of unintended consequences. it seems to me, too, that violence begets more violence in almost all situations. i'm frankly worried about that relative to our response to the 9.11 attacks. is there a link with the cases of anthrax? it seems likely. we haven't had this kind of problem before (unless it's just some opportunist). violence twists in a vicious circle.

you can't finally legislate morality, much less prompt it by violence. force does not build character. we should use laws and politics to encourage morality/character when we can, but they will not accomplish it. if you only want to revolt, emancipate, and depose, force works.
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