Yes, but they are much rarer than people think.
And no matter how much it is one of those situations, I probably won’t be able to do it, sorry.
I just don’t think I could ever feel comfortable with violent anything. I can kind of understand why some people think it is necessary or useful, but it makes me uncomfortable, and I suspect it risks giving yourself over to something that may do more harm than you can see.
I guess in that last paragraph I’m referring specifically to violence as civil disobedience, just because that’s a conversation I had recently. Groups at recent protests saw their best way of making a statement as attacking the property of big businesses.
I don’t think it’s the best tactic, and I couldn’t take part myself (mixture of fear, weakness and discomfort) but I can entirely see that as a valid reaction to a system as fucked as it is, particularly if you realise the system in question is structured specifically so that it silences you.
I think it’s important for a broad range of people on the left/radical/whatever that is side of the spectrum to stand in solidarity with not just people who peacefully protest but those who ‘ruin it for the others’ with violence.
But I seriously worry about risk to others, and people who get carried away. I’m not happy with deindividuation and the potential for a herd mentality.
But this is taking the question down one particular route just to stay relevant to current affairs.
There’s another current affair that’s relevant, and that’s air strikes in Libya. The protection of Libyans from their own murderous leader.
I can’t even begin to comprehend the morality involved in that, but I know how I’d react to a similar situation scaled down (assuming I wasn’t just too scared to act, which is highly likely).
I know from at least one situation, that I can be self sacrificing to get in the way of violence. I’ve stood in the way of something bad to let it happen to me instead. I couldn’t really attack, but I could be a meat shield for my loved ones.
I guess that’s still non-violence, but it’s scary enough. And something I wish I was brave enough to do.
I don’t know how you do that on an international scale, but it would definitely be less unsettling than war.
But yeah. My morals are often utterly impractical. Self defence is necessary. Some things might just be wrong enough to warrant violence to correct, but I’m always going to be to worried about who decides the levels of wrongness, and the levels of action.
Because there’s no clear cut answers, and everyone’s biased.
War isn’t simple.
Scale it down and it might be easier to make grand impressive gestures, but it’s also easier to get emotional.
Is that better than the cold calculation of an international community with one eye on Human Rights and another on the oil supply?
Illustration by Andy.