Friday, August 11, 2006


A Greater Love

Grim posts a harshly beautiful essay at Blackfive, On the Virtues of Killing Children, that’s an absolute must read -- if only to consider a deeper truth revealed beyond the sensationalist title. Follow-up, too, with the comments, Grim and his readers add some excellent post-scripts to his reflection.

Grim transcribes an all too realistic dialog with a perhaps hypothetical pacifist friend, or if not pacifist, someone thoroughly immersed in the “war is bad for living things” kind of philosophy. “A peaceful, gentle soul” is how Grim actually describes his antagonist. Note: 2nd definition per the American Heritage Dictionary , “2. The principal character in opposition to the protagonist or hero of a narrative or drama.”

Gentle soul that she is, she’s still the antagonist to Grim’s protagonist. There’s a post all of its own in the Latin forms here, but that’s for another day.

And as the Antagonist of Grim’s timely drama, the Gentle Soul starts and frames the old argument:

The gentle soul -- how I respect her! -- will begin by pointing out how many innocents have died in the recent wars, and especially the children, who are the most obviously innocent. She will point out figures for Iraq, for Afghanistan, for Lebanon, and ask: "How can you justify this? These poor children, who might have been good men, good women, lain in the cold earth?"

We have all had the conversation that far, have we not? We are accustomed to reply: "But the enemy is the one that targets children. We try our best to avoid hurting children. That makes us better. Furthermore, the enemy hides himself among children. As a result, in spite of our best efforts, sometimes children die on the other side also. But again, it is not our fault -- it is his fault. He endangers them."

She replies: "But how can you justify their deaths? Regardless of how hard you try, will you not kill them? Some of them? Should we not choose peace instead?"

Grim’s vignette is worth the whole read, if only to walk through the unassailable logic of his argument against the self-defeating and contradictory claim to pacifism, however well intended, here excerpted:

"Consider: when the enemy seeks to kill our child to motivate us to surrender to his will, is it not because he believes that the danger to the children will move our hearts?"

"And when he hides among children," I add, "why? Children do little to deflect artillery. Must it not be because he knows that we -- we ourselves -- fear for the children, even his children?"

"It is our love of these innocents that endangers them. If we did not care if children died, they would be in little danger."

"If we did not care if our children died, they would not be targets. There would be no reason to target them, because we would not be moved by their deaths.

"It must be," I tell her sadly, "Here: That we pursue war without thought of the children. That we do not turn aside from the death of the innocent, but push on to the conclusion, through all fearful fire. If we do that, the children will lose their value as hostages, and as targets: if we love them, we must harden our hearts against their loss. Ours and theirs."

I would add, if only as post-script. We have an example, a supernatural one as you allude, for the kind of selfless sacrifice that in the end may be required of all of us. "No greater love," a Book of wisdom says, "than that a man lay down his life for a friend."

There is a higher love, a love that goes beyond the mere mortal, and we only glimpse it as if looking through a clouded glass.

By looking past the deaths of innocent as we fight against evil, we can remain resolute, confident that there are the lives of many more innocents that hang in the balance, critically dependent upon our success.

It is for the lives of all those innocents yet threatened that allows us to stand strong and ignore the innocents who will surely die in the course of defeating the evil that threatens them, threatens us all, threatens our very humanity.

In fighting, we do not surrender our humanity, rather we do what's necessary to preserve it.

Tender hearted fools find that a contradiction, and thus a lie.

(Via Winds of Change)

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