violent pacifism September 23, 2006Posted by Brad Richert in philosophy, politics, religion.
A Buddhist monk kneels peacefully, not unlike he would in the confines of the monastery, beside a typical Vietnamese street.
A child looks on in wonder at the spiritual leader’s odd location for meditation.
Within seconds, the public square erupts in amazement, disbelief, and panic.
The grotesque violence of self-embalmment on display exhibits a paradox in the minds of those present, as it will for every person who will have this photograph burned into their psyche.
The contrast of peace and violence could not be more graphically imminent:
the peaceful monk in a violent act,
the violent act on a peaceful street,
the peaceful street in a violent country.
Over forty years ago, this peaceful monk exercised the most absolute form of protest available to a human being.
The only way that this monk could protest the brutality of his government was with his own form of bloodshed.
He would not give his government the satisfaction of using their techniques.
He would not protest with aggression.
He would not take another’s life.
He would take his own.