Peace is more than simply the absence of aggression and war. Peace transcends the end of a conflict or a statement of policy. While we may force the outward appearance of peace upon a people or a nation, it is the underlying thinking that must change to create a true and lasting peace.
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first freedom is speech and expression – everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want – which, translated into world-terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear – which, translated into world-terms, means a worldwide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world. That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.
Clinical experience has indicated that where a child has been exposed early in his live to episodes of physical violence, whether he himself is the victim or ... the witness, he will often later demonstrate similar outbursts of uncontrollable rage and violence of his own. Aggression becomes an easy outlet through which the child's frustrations and tensions flow, not just because of a simple matter of learning that can be just as simply unlearned, not just because he is imitating a bad behavior model and can be taught to imitate something more constructive, but because these traumatic experiences have overwhelmed him. His own emotional development is too immature to withstand the crippling inner effects of outer violence. Something happens to the child's character, to his sense of reality, to the development of his controls against impulses that may not later be changed easily but which may lead to reactions that in turn provoke more reactions - one or more of which may be criminal. Then society reacts against him for what he did, but more for what all of us have done - unpleasantly - to one another. Upon him is laid the iniquity of us all.
It is a double-edged makeshift to entrust an individual or a group of individuals with the authority to resort to violence. The enticement implied is too tempting for a human being. The men who are to protect the community against violent aggression easily turn into the most dangerous aggressors. They transgress their mandate. They misuse their power for the oppression of those whom they were expected to defend against oppression. The main political problem is how to prevent the police power from becoming tyrannical. This is the meaning of all the struggles for liberty.
If the U.S. monopoly capitalist groups persist in pushing their policies of aggression and war, the day is bound to come when they will be hanged by the people of the whole world. The same fate awaits the accomplices of the United States.
Aggression must be met with resistance, and non-violence of the brave is possible only for advanced souls, who have through rigorous discipline eradicated from their minds all forms of greed and hate. But so far as people in general are concerned, it is undesirable to ask them to observe the external formula of non-violence when it is their clear duty to resist aggression in self-defence or in the defence of weaker brothers. General insistence upon non-violence can only lead to people becoming cowardly, irresponsible, and inert, putting the responsibility upon others.
If the state is in disorder, then expound “elevating the worthy” and “conforming upward”; if the state is poor, then expound “thrift in utilization” and “thrift in funerals”; if the state overindulges in musical entertainment, then expound “rejecting music” and “rejecting fate”; if the state is dissolute and indecorous, expound “respecting Heaven” and “serving ghosts”; if the state is devoted to aggression and intimidation, then expound “inclusive care” and “rejecting aggression.”
There are only two cases in which war is just: first, in order to resist the aggression of an enemy, and second, in order to help an ally who has been attacked.
The Ten Mohist Doctrines [paraphrase] As their movement developed, the Mohists came to present themselves as offering a collection of ten key doctrines, divided into five pairs. The ten doctrines correspond to the titles of the ten triads, the ten sets of three essays that form the core of the Mozi. Although the essays in each triad differ in detail, the gist of each doctrine may be briefly summarized as follows. “Elevating the Worthy” and “Conforming Upward.” The purpose of government is to achieve a stable social, economic, and political order (zhi, pronounced “jr”) by promulgating a unified conception of morality (yi). This task of moral education is to be carried out by encouraging everyone to “conform upward” to the good example set by social and political superiors and by rewarding those who do so and punishing those who do not. Government is to be structured as a centralized, bureaucratic state led by a virtuous monarch and managed by a hierarchy of appointed officials. Appointments are to be made on the basis of competence and moral merit, without regard for candidates' social status or origins. “Inclusive Care” and “Rejecting Aggression.” To achieve social order and exemplify the key virtue of ren (humanity, goodwill), people must inclusively care for each other, having as much concern for others' lives, families, and communities as for their own, and in their relations with others seek to benefit them. Military aggression is wrong for the same reasons that theft, robbery, and murder are: it harms others in pursuit of selfish benefit, while ultimately failing to benefit Heaven, the spirits, or society as a whole. “Thrift in Utilization” and “Thrift in Funerals.” To benefit society and care for the welfare of the people, wasteful luxury and useless expenditures must be eliminated. Seeking always to bring wealth to the people and order to society, the ren (humane) person avoids wasting resources on extravagant funerals and prolonged mourning (which were the custom in ancient China). “Heaven's Intention” and “Elucidating Ghosts.” Heaven is the noblest, wisest moral agent, so its intention is a reliable, objective standard of what is morally right (yi) and must be respected. Heaven rewards those who obey its intention and punishes those who defy it, hence people should strive to be humane and do what is right. Social and moral order (zhi) can be advanced by encouraging belief in ghosts and spirits who reward the good and punish the wicked. “Rejecting Music” and “Rejecting Fatalism.” The humane (ren) person opposes the extravagant musical entertainment and other luxuries enjoyed by rulers and high officials, because these waste resources that could otherwise be used for feeding and clothing the common people. Fatalism is not ren, because by teaching that our lot in life is predestined and human effort is useless, it interferes with the pursuit of economic wealth, a large population, and social order (three primary goods that the humane person desires for society). Fatalism fails to meet a series of justificatory criteria and so must be rejected.
Aggression | Belief | Care | Competence | Custom | Doctrine | Education | Effort | Entertainment | Example | Good | Government | Heaven | Intention | Life | Life | Luxury | Morality | Mourning | Murder | Order | People | Present | Purpose | Purpose | Regard | Reward | Right | Society | Virtue | Virtue | Waste | Wealth | Wrong | Society | Government | Murder |
The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.
This leads to a bigger underlying issue for all of us: How are we ever going to change anything? How is there going to be less aggression in the universe rather than more? We can then bring it down to a more personal level: how do I learn to communicate with somebody who is hurting me or someone who is hurting a lot of people? How do I speak to someone so that some change actually occurs? How do I communicate so that the space opens up and both of us begin to touch in to some kind of basic intelligence that we all share? In a potentially violent encounter, how do I communicate so that neither of us becomes increasingly furious and aggressive? How do I communicate to the heart so that a stuck situation can ventilate? How do I communicate so that things that seem frozen, unworkable, and eternally aggressive begin to soften up, and some kind of compassionate exchange begins to happen?
This interpretation of animal aggression as being restrained and formal can be disputed. In particular, it is certainly wrong to condemn poor old Homo Sapiens as the only species to kill his own kind, the only inheritor of the mark of Cain, and similar melodramatic charges.
Saying that spiritual practices train our minds, shape our consciousness and mold our character can sum this up. We undertake spiritual practice in order to change in some way, even if it is only a change of perspective. In more traditional language we undertake spiritual practices because they bring us closer to God’s will. How does this work? Spiritual practices including meditation (whether the object of attention is set at the breath, bodily sensations, a visualization, a mantra, a prayer or at floating open attention), and mitzvoth like Shabbat, Kashrut, and Torah study, and conscious non-harming speech share a similar technology. One commits to a particular action as the focus of one’s energy, attention, time, and behavior. One articulates this intention. Then one waits. Soon, the obstacles appear. In a sitting meditation practice we may intend to follow each in breath and each out breath. No sooner do we begin then thoughts rush in or we find ourselves nodding sleepily or in a state of anxiety regarding the pain in our knee or lower back. Or we have decided to observe the Sabbath and an invitation comes our way that is irresistible. Or we promise ourselves to observe kashruth and a strong desire arises to taste the forbidden. Often rationalizing thoughts obscuring the clarity of the original intention surround these temptations. The training occurs in the next step, the step of renunciation or returning. We see the temptation. We acknowledge it in a non-judgmental and non-personal way realizing that we are seeing forgetfulness in the human mind. As we bring attention to the temptation we see that it has no substance. Each time we do this, the ability to choose is strengthened. Each time we return from distraction or obstacle, the power of habit and unconsciousness is weakened. In this process we begin to see the nature of our minds and the nature of reality itself. We increase our ability to pay attention. And what do we begin to notice? We observe the arising and passing away of thoughts, sensations, sounds, desires, feelings, and moods just as daylight passes and evening comes. We see the consequences of various forms of contraction in the mind or body like fear, desire, suppression, judgment, anger, and aggression. We see the consequences of various forms of expansion like, trust, ease, relaxation, acceptance, generosity and gratitude.
Ability | Aggression | Aims | Effort | Eternal | Existence | Experience | Habit | Hope | Joy | Language | Love | Order | Practice | Prayer | Qualities | Question | Receive | Relationship | Self | Sense | Suffering | Understanding | Will |