green field under white and blue clouds during daytime

Must We Not Fight for Peace?

War would end if the dead could return.” — Stanley Baldwin.

Just imagine you wake up the following morning to the sound of bombs exploding and artillery firing. The enemy has invaded. You didn’t think it would ever happen, but there you are.

Suddenly you’ve been thrown back into the 1940s.

Now, what do you do? Do you gather your most prized belongings and flee? Or do you kiss your wife and children goodbye  – send them packing  –  and then pick up a gun and fight for your homeland? Assuming you don’t have to stay, that is. Assuming that you can leave.

Should you go? Or should you stand and fight? 

I remember reading a quote by Bertrand Russell, who once said, “I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.” Yet, I suspect there is little debate about what most people reading this feel regarding Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

I firmly believe war is wrong. There are never any winners when it comes to war. To quote Harry Patch (one of the last surviving combat soldiers from the First World War), “War is organised murder and nothing else.”

But, if that’s the case  –  if you don’t believe in war  – what do you do when war comes knocking down your front door?

Do you stand and fight in defence  – do you engage in war  – or do you walk away? Do you find another place to call home? And what if leaving isn’t a choice? Do you accept your fate because you don’t believe in killing another human being? 

There’s another quote that’s always struck a chord with me. Words once uttered by the great Mahatma Gandhi. He said, “There is no way to peace, peace is the way.” I don’t doubt that he’s right. However, it feels idealistic when I think about what’s going on right now.

Because let’s be honest, man’s ability to transcend his ego is pathetic. Of course, peace is right and war is wrong. It’s easy to say that. But peace can only be maintained if both sides believe in it. And there are always exceptions aren’t there? Like standing up to tyranny and oppression? 

If no one had fought and died for our freedoms, where would we be now? How much worse would our lives be?

Killing someone in self-defence is protected under the law for a reason. Just imagine someone decides to invade your home. Image you have nowhere to run and that no one is coming to your aid. Imagine this person is intent on killing your children. What do you do? Do you hesitate to kill that person? In order to protect those that you love? If you’re left with no other choice?

Martin Luther King once said, “If a man has not found something worth dying for, he is not fit to live.” That’t powerful isn’t it? What if that thing is freedom, equality or human rights? Are those not worth dying for? Are they not worth defending to the death? If not for you, then for your children and your children’s children?

I honestly don’t know what I would do if I was in the situation the people of Ukraine find themselves now. Whether or not I would have what it takes to kill another human being  – even if it is for a righteous cause. For something that I strongly believe in. 

Although the thoughts have crossed my mind before, I’ve quickly put a lid on them  –  never thinking for one moment that I would ever have to contemplate killing another human being under the conditions of war. 

Perhaps I never will. Or maybe  –  if this shameless act of aggression is allowed to stand  – we all will. Maybe it will be our children who are forced to make this choice. 

I can think of nothing worse.

After all, here we are. War has returned to Europe. It’s the closest we’ve been to World War since the Cold War. And right now we need to ask ourselves, what would we do? 

How would we respond if we woke up to bombing and heavy artillery tomorrow morning? What if we found ourselves in a war we didn’t ask for? What if we were made to choose between accepting the rule of tyranny and oppression or killing those trying to enforce it upon us?

Finally, we need to ask what we can do to help.

33 thoughts on “Must We Not Fight for Peace?

  1. “If a man has not found something worth dying for, he is not fit to live.” Powerful, poignant words AP2. Thank you.

    I covertly and silently struggled with such thoughts serving as a Marine during the Vietnam War . . . Right or Wrong? . . Life or Death? . . . Freedom or Tyranny? Ultimately, I resolved that freedom was the only ‘right’ choice that would endure to defeat tyranny, even at the cost of death.

    1. I can only imagine what being in the middle of a war is like. I believe in peace and freedom. I would die to protect those things for my children. But would I kill for them? Perhaps what you are willing to die for are also the things you are willing kill for – if pushed to? When it comes to absolute pacifism versus defensivism I wonder. Were leaders like Gandhi right? Is killing another person never the answer? I’m honestly not sure where I stand. Obviously there are other ways to fight injustice without picking up a weapon. Indeed leaders like Gandhi achieved a huge amount without resorting to violence, but I can’t imagine there is another way against a despot like Putin. Thank for Fred. I wish you well 🙏

    2. You are absolutely right man. I completely agree. In this era when a crazy tyrant is invading a whole free nation , it would be completely worth to die for the country’s freedom. Can’t say anything beyond this……. The people stuck in the invasion know the real value of freedom……

  2. It’s a very difficult question indeed. I also would not know what to do, I would flee away most probably, but I think you would need to find yourself in that dramatic situation to decide. I just made a donation to the Red Cross, they are very well organised and can bring aid also to remote places.

    1. You’re right – it is perhaps too hard to contemplate unless you’re actually there. I’ve made a few donations too – Red Cross are a good one to recommend. Thanks Cristiana for being part of the good fight. 🙏

  3. Such profound questions, AP2. It’s easy for those of us who don’t have to answer the call to give a hypothetical answer. Actually, even then it’s not so easy. The rest of the world can only watch in horror at what is unfolding and with admiration for the brave Ukrainians taking up the fight. The ones who might really be asking themselves your questions are the Russian soldiers who had no idea this is what they were expected to do.

    1. That’s a good point Jane. I can’t imagine being part of an invading force I don’t believe in. Honestly, I would defect.

  4. I think we’ll never get the answers if we don’t find ourselves in that situation. And probably even in that case it’s not easy

    1. I believe you’re right. It’s hard to say how any of us would cope/what we would do. It certainly wouldn’t be easy in any case. Thank you for lending your thoughts 🙏

    1. Absolutely. “I prefer peace, but if trouble must come, let it be in my time that my children may know peace.” – Thomas Paine. We must do all we can to make sure our children live in a time of peace, not war. 🙏

  5. This is a very thought-provoking post, AP. I hate guns, and I hate war. Still, I hope I would do as the Ukrainians have done…defend my family and my country however I was able. Even old people are helping to feed the troops, making Molotov cocktails, roadblocks, and camoflage nets to disguise Ukrainian tanks.

    If Ukraine is defeated, other small countries could also fall like dominoes. Other nations cannot ignore a madman committing war crimes against his neighbors in his ambitions to conquer the world. We must all do what we can to help.

    1. I hate guns and war too. I don’t believe violence is the answer however, if someone comes into my home and attacks my family… I would do what I have to to protect them. You make a great point – we don’t have to pick up a weapon if we don’t believe in it. There are many ways to “fight” – to help the Ukrainians defend themselves. I personally don’t think Ukraine will ever be defeated even if it is conquered – there are too fiercely independent. Putin will fail to ever completely absorb the country back into Russia. As for other countries – like you say – that’s why we all need to let Putin know just how big a mistake this is. Wishing you well Cheryl 🙏

  6. Excellent article. It is something we all should contemplate. Not because we will or might face war, but because we need to know what we are willing to live for. What is our own life worth? That could be a very important question to answer.

    1. That you Gene. That’s exactly it. We can all do something to help the Ukrainians in this war. Wishing you well 🙏

    1. I honestly don’t know the answer, but I believe these questions are important to ask – especially now. There were a number of great spiritual leaders who believe that violence is always wrong. I find it hard to reconcile that idea when it comes to defending oneself. When as a nation you have one of two choices: to fight or submit.

      Thank you for adding your thoughts on a difficult subject 🙏

  7. A really thought provoking post and one which, even for a self-proclaimed pacifist as myself, is not easy to answer. I don’t think war is ever the answer and those who start it are often those who are not fighting, injured and killed during it. The global nuclear arsenal, thought by some to be a deterrent, is now being used as a threat. The reality that one crazed leader is able to threaten a country and it’s allies with destruction is extremely frightening.
    ‘Fighting to keep the peace’ is an oxymoron but is it ever necessary? If I was in Ukraine now I think I would be helping make Molotov cocktails, aiding the Ukrainian people in practical ways, helping to spread truthful, accurate news etc etc. But could I actually pick up a gun to fire at someone? I don’t think I could or would do so. I would be participating indirectly though so obviously I’m not the pacifist I would like to be.
    A great post and interesting comments – thank you.

    1. I don’t know where I stand to be honest. Of course there are ways to fight without picking up an actual weapon and I certainly agree with that. Putin’s action cannot be allowed to stand. But fighting fire with fire? What option do Ukrainians really have? Do you stand and fight or submit? If forced to choose – I feel that perhaps one has to fight. I think of my children and only wish this is a situation they never ever find themselves.

      Thank you for taking the time to lend your thoughtful response margiran. 🙏

  8. Goodness, I’ve been imaginging this scenario for the past week, 24/7. Will war come knocking on all of our doors? Will it be nuclear war? Will it happen now or in 15 years when my kids are army-aged? What’s going on, how crazy are they? Why are they shooting at evacuating kids? Will we live in a bunker for years and years? I feel so helpless. And yes, I donated some money but it doesn’t feel like enough action. As for those fighting – if they don’t fight, the war will move on to the next countries. Soon, there will be no place to evacuate, unless you can leave the entire planet on a space rocket.

    1. It certainly feels like that. It’s hard to know how far Putin intends to take all of this. Whether his ambitions end at Ukraine. Seems unlikely – you’re right. We must do as much as we can/whatever we can – to help Ukraine fight back. It isn’t just their own freedoms they are fighting for – but all of ours. Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙏

    1. Agreed. Although the idea of killing someone still bothers me. But I think if forced to – I would do it for my children. So they can live in peace.

    1. Thank you for sharing KP. Yes, I believe the vast majority wish for peace, not destruction. Wishing you well 🙏

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