[ by Charles Cameron -- some middle ground? ]
Two pieces have struck me in the last couple of days for their, well, maturity. By which I find I mean their ability to hold the tension between two opposites — among the most celebrated of all — while seeking an appropriate balance between them.
There’s an interesting blend of PR and wisdom in there, and something akin to a disciplined exhaustion with war. But this is Amsterdam…
My second example comes from Caitlin Fitz Gerald at Gunpowder and Lead, and is titled On Taking Nonviolence Seriously. A snapshot:
I understand the urge to dismiss nonviolence in the face of the brutality of the Syrian regime. I certainly don’t know what is best for the people of Syria in this conflict, and I’m not sure I would have the courage to urge non-violence to people who are being attacked by their own government daily, but I would urge anyone dismissing nonviolent means as completely absurd to read a little Gene Sharp (whose work Mr. Serwer references in his piece) first.
Early in his seminal work From Dictatorship to Democracy (pdf), Sharp makes a key point about the why for nonviolent means, that ”By placing confidence in violent means, one has chosen the very type of struggle with which the oppressors nearly always have superiority.”
I don’t want to get too strange about this, but we can exult in war and we can rejoice in peace — our lives play out in the tension between impulses, and that’s a long walk on a high wire…