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Dave Cole on Pacifism and Violence

August 31, 2013
Dave Cole

Dave Cole






My friend, Dave Cole, wrote about pacifism.  His article was picked up at the gun-news aggregator Ammoland.  The discussion started after Miss Antoinette Tuff, a school bookkeeper near Atlanta, Georgia, talked a mentally ill man armed with a rifle into surrendering to police.

Dave said, “ the aftermath of this incident, I have seen Antoinette Tuff held up as some sort of peaceful warrior, as if her actions that day were born of compassionate non-violence, rather than necessity.  This was a catalyst to examine what it means to be a pacifist.

Said jujutsu master Yukiyoshi Takamura:

“A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence. He chooses peace. He must be able to make a choice. He must have the genuine ability to destroy his enemy and then choose not to.”

I submit that…as expressed in the quote above…if you do not have the ability or the tools to respond to violence with violence of your own, then your “choice” to respond non-violently to danger is in fact a non-choice.  In that case, pacifism is merely an absence of options.  If non-violence is the only tool in your tool belt, guess what you’re going to use?

I take issue with anyone who claims to be a pacifist as a life philosophy, unless they also give up the option of calling police when violence comes a-knocking.  It is your choice if you can’t or don’t want to provide for your own defense.  If you prefer to have the police come administer violence on your behalf, they will do that.  And calling the police is perfectly OK.  We hire others to do jobs for us all the time, either out of necessity or convenience.  But I don’t think you can call yourself a pacifist if you simply plan to farm out your violence to a third party.

But if you do wish to participate in your own personal safety, having more tools gives you more options, and more options is always better.  Like Antoinette Tuff, I have verbal de-escalation training.  I also have defensive empty hands training.  I have pepper spray, and a high-powered flashlight.  I have a knife.  I also carry a gun.  If danger finds me, I can choose the most appropriate tool.  I can de-escalate verbally when possible, and I can fight back when necessary.  I have a range of options!  I can choose between violence and non-violence.

Did Antoinette Tuff have the same choices available to her?

Do you?

Dave brings up a great point. A single approach never fits all circumstances.  Pacifism does not, nor does a gun.  Like a good mechanic, a smart citizen should have a toolbox full of options.. and the training to know which one to use.

Thank you Dave.  You made me think.  Now I want more tools and training for my “toolbox”.



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