This morning's news about the bombings in London made me very sad.
My students often think that nonviolent action cannot be very effective against terrorism. Then I ask them: Is violence an effective response to terrorism?
What if you don't really know who is responsible? Or what if those responsible are suicide bombers? Then they are already dead. So, instead, retaliatory violence too often gets unleashed on someone else. Innocent civilians die. If what made the terrorist attacks evil was that innocent civilians were killed, is our country evil for killing more innocent civilians in return?
Violence is irrational.
"But we have to do something!" the students say.
"'Doing something' does not have to mean engaging in violent attacks!" I reply.
"So," my students press me, "what would be an effective nonviolent response to terrorism?"
They are right to press me on this, and so I am proud of them. I have only given half an answer, if that. Ok, less than half an answer. Ok, hardly any answer at all.
What does the peace movement have to say about the problem of terrorism?
5 years ago