Friday, October 5, 2007

Dorothy Day and Pacifism

"War is deviltry. It calls for sacrifices indeed, but not at the altar of love. "Greater love hath no man than this." A great blasphemy this, to use Christ’s words in connection with men going to war. They go because they are drafted, because they are afraid of what their neighbors will say, because the pay is good, because the benefits accruing afterward (the G.I. Bill of Rights) are great....they are filled with a warm glow of self-love."

There has been an ongoing discussion at 'Vox Nova' about pacifism and Dorothy Day's thoughts & words during this tumultuous time in the history of mankind.

As you can see in the comment section the debate became heated, but I hold true that debate is healthy.It is a vital ingredient which we enjoy within our free countries.

Idealism has its place but the reality is we do not live in an ideal world. It would be wonderful if every country refused to make armament's. That no man would pick up a weapon to use against another. But where in our history has that happened?

To try and imply that the Allied soldiers of World War II were no better or worse than the evil tyranny of the Nazi's and the Japanese is offensive. There IS a difference. Two countries were intent on ruling the world by force, they cared not how many lives they would destroy. What mattered to these Facist Nations was the subjugation of the world no matter the cost.

We owe our freedom to those brave young men who fought and died for each of us. I honour their sacrifice. I remember their courage when confronting such savagery as the German and Japanese war machine, which was intent on destroying everything we hold dear, our freedom.

I also honour those men and women who fought in the resistance in various countries against the occupation of the Nazi's. Many of these men and women were tortured and shot for defending their right to live freely in their own country.

To imply that U.S soldiers went to War for a higher pay cheque is absurd it also diminishes those men who chose to take a stand for freedom. To also imply that these brave young soldiers went to war out of fear, from 'what will the neighbours think' is equally bizarre. These men saw evil and they confronted it. Many lost their lives while doing so, are we now to condemn them?

Rather than go to Germany and confront Hitler over his illegal occupation of innocent European countries, Dorothy Day stayed home. Rather than go to Germany and organize peace rallies, once again Dorothy Day stayed home. It was her choice to make, but let her not condemn those brave young men who went to fight for Dorothy's freedom.

None of us want war but when war comes to us, what are we to do, meet the enemy with wet noodles? Or feather dusters?

In one speech Dorothy Day compared her own living conditions and those she sought to help as equal to the sufferings in war torn Europe. She wrote, "Let their noses be mortified by the smells of sewage, decay, and rotten flesh. Yes, and the smell of the sweat, blood and tears spoken of so blithely by Mr. Churchill, & so widely and bravely quoted by comfortable people." Were the Jews in Auschwitz, Treblinka and other death camps, comfortable?

Of course living in the tenements was not easy, but did Dorothy and her neighbours face death by gas? Were they in peril of being thrown into ovens alive? No!

As I wrote in one of my comments, 'Just because Dorothy Day wrote some words it does not make it right or correct'.

During the dark years of World War II there were two choices, a battle of Good vs Evil. Let those brave Allied soldiers who fought speak up they earned the right. Let those who survived the holocaust raise their voices they lived through horror. Let the heroic resistance fighters have their say, they fought for it. But let those who stayed safely at home respect and honour those who chose to fight evil, rather then glibly dismiss their Sacrifice as nothing. Do not compare the Allied soldiers to those of the Fascists.

Have we reached a time in our day where we dismiss the heroism of our fallen soldiers? Where we dishonour those who fought for the freedoms we now take for granted?

"It is better that the United States be liquidated than that she survive by war." - Dorothy Day

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do we throw away the freedoms for which so many sacrificed their lives for?