Peace and Violence
Joel Kovel, an American writer, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and eco-socialist, describes peace as a state of existence “where basic human needs are met and [a world] in which justice can be obtained and conflict resolved through nonviolent processes” (Harris 12). So, let’s say, for the sake of argument, that peace is a state of calm (personal, social, and political) that can be achieved by resolving conflicts without physical force.
We all know that our world is full of violence—street crimes, wars, domestic violence, poverty, injustice, and so on. Let’s say, violence is not just “the exercise or [the] instance of physical force, usually effecting or intended to effect injuries, destruction” (Dictionary.com) because violence can also be verbal.
This semester, we have read a few essays about violence–injustice and oppression (physical and mental). We’ve seen how writers, characters, and protagonists have dealt with violence. For example, George Orwell’s reaction to imperialism, Sandra Cisnero’s reaction to gender bias, Maya Angelou’s reaction to racism, Gansberg’s reaction to the bystander’s syndrome, Curry and Cose’s reaction to hate crime or the threat of hate crime, and Feinstein and Buchnan’s perception of and reaction to the injustices within the current immigration system.
Though we do not have many readings about war, “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine” does portray India’s war against Pakistan for the independence of Bangladesh. The story speaks of the horrific genocide that took place in the early seventies. Also history has taught us the causes and effects of wars. Many will say that in some instances, war is justified. However, the great pacifists of the world explain their non-violence stand in this manner:
Mahatma Gandhi says, “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent” (“Violence and Terrorism: Popular Violence”).
Martin Luther King Jr. says, “If we assume that mankind has a right to survive then we must find an alternative to war and destruction” (Harris 60).
So, there are many questions that stem from this: Can violence be justified? If so, in what situations can we justify violence? In order to avoid the destruction of violence, can we truly resort to solving conflicts in a non-violent manner? In other words, can we solve conflicts without physical force? And even if do, isn’t it possible that a certain amount of violence could exist within that attempt of non-violence? Can we mitigate violence in this world through the universal practice of non-violence? How practical is the philosophy of non violence? How far should one follow the philosophy of non-violence? If a person’s intention is to achieve peace, and if he or she does resort to violence, then doesn’t the intention justify the means?
Take a stand on the question of peace and violence as discussed above and write an argumentative essay of 1000 words. Your essay must contain multiple paragraphs with each paragraph not extending beyond eight sentences. Your essay must have a claim, a counter argument, and a refutation. You may use the first person if you like. Your essay must contain scholarly evidence (such as examples, data, quotations) to support your stand. You must document at least two sources. Sources should be cited within the body of your essay and entered in the Works Cited list.
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