Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Quotes for Peace

Returning briefly to earlier discussions of war and peace, I wonder what the best quotation for peace or pacifism is. Tolstoy's War and Peace contains some thought-provoking battlefield scenery in which soldiers are depicted doing their best to avoid fighting, but despite having read it multiple times, I am ashamed to admit nothing stuck from those pages.
The same applies to E.M. Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, which is even more forcefully anti-war, but whose substance I remember much better than its most noteworthy sentences.
My top contender must therefore be Yossarian's offer of a definition of the word 'enemy' from chapter 12 of Joseph Heller's Catch-22:
'"The enemy", retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, "is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And don't you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live."'
Thus, one's government is just another enemy if it puts the lives of its citizens at risk in an attempt to "fight back". Invasions by foreign powers would be far less deadly if the invaded territory did not forcibly resist. Perhaps they do because politicians force them to.
Catch-22 is a brilliant piece of writing. Unless I be mistaken, the book was also Heller's first publication, and he could never really top the early achievement. It has a sequel, Closing Time, which I think was Heller's last book, and which is much too sentimental for my taste.

So, Yossarian's definition of what is an enemy is my top choice for a quotation for pacifism. What other good ones are there?

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