Is Pacifism a Privilege?

Why I believe that killing is never the answer to oppression

Pax Ahimsa Gethen

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Simple drawing of a dove carrying an olive branch, below the words “Is Pacifism a Privilege?” Dove image by Teetaweepo and JustMyThoughts from Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0.

As I write this post today, mass shootings are dominating U.S. news headlines. According to the Gun Violence Archive, we have had more than one mass shooting per day in January, and the month is not yet over. Sadly, this is nothing new for a country that appears to value the right to bear arms more than the right to live.

Sadder still, the individuals killed in these horrible attacks represent only a fraction of the lives lost every day to gun violence. I have previously made my case for why voluntary gun abolition, not increased gun control or gun safety training, is the only hope for humanity moving forward as a peaceful species.

I am opposed to the use of firearms because, as my regular readers know, I am a pacifist. I named myself Pax Ahimsa — literally translating to “peace” and “do no harm” — as a constant reminder to myself to be nonviolent.

Pacifists have different thresholds for what they consider acceptable uses of force. As for me, I believe that it is always wrong to kill, or attempt to kill, another human being. Though this statement is simple and straightforward, I will break it down further for clarity.

By “wrong”, I mean immoral. By immoral, I mean an act that should be avoided because it is intrinsically harmful to others. Note that I am an atheist, and my morals are not based on any particular religion. I am, however, currently a regular attender of Quaker (Society of Friends) meetings.

By “human being”, I mean a person who has already been born, not an embryo or fetus living in a womb. I fully support on-demand abortion for everyone, and will not be debating that issue in or in response to this post.

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Pax Ahimsa Gethen

Queer agender trans male. Black vegan atheist, pacifist. Pronouns: they/them/their. funcrunch.org, patreon.com/funcrunch