Saturday, January 24, 2009

Nonviolence and Peaceful Disposition

"but all these Vs: against!  against!  against!
  --Tony Harrison, "v."

When striving for a nonviolent treatment of people and animals, it is too easy to argue with anger and hostility.  Discussion of violence against humans often takes place in political argument, which splits into a contentious side-against-side debate without movement.  This is doubly true regarding animals: if you are arguing for nonviolence against animals, not only are you are in conflict with the vast majority of the culture, but you are fighting with people over very real, personal, day-to-day values and behavior.

I find myself wanting to avoid this contentiousness.  I want to strive for nonviolence, but I also want to strive for internal peacefulness and a peaceful relationship with other people.  To argue against warfare and against killing of animals, it is rather too easy to be angry and contentious, rather difficult to find that internal peacefulness and a peaceful way to communicate with fellow people.

I argue about other topics.  I argue about sports, but try to do so in an analytical manner, addressing the available data.  And I argue about literature (though that, too, can get too close to contentious argument over deeply held values).  

The hostility in discussion over nonviolence (against humans and animals) sometimes makes me want withdraw, to immerse myself into poetry, or into religion.  But does a peaceful disposition require one to leave the real striving to others?  Is quietude an abandonment of the effort against violence?

I hope not.  It is impossible to be entirely non-confrontational on these subjects--to say it is wrong to kill animals is a confrontation.  But I find myself wishing to have discussions based on reason, using rational argument to avoid contentiousness, avoiding insult or inflammatory language.  I hope to strive for nonviolent treatment of people and animals, but to treat opponents with dignity and to still seek an inner peacefulness.

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