A close friend of mine, we will call him J and myself are both pacifists. For those who don’t know, a pacifist is a person who does not participate in violence. Well, it has been sucessful for us both, nobody really bothers us becuase we don’ t bother anyone else. Today though, during lunch as J was walking back to our table after he got his lunch (we usually share). He tripped on sombodies foot and got potatoe salad all over a very strong, very large guy, whom we will call L. So, right afterwards, J told L that he was very sorry, and didn’t meat to do it, becuase sombody accidentally tripped him, L just pushed him and sat back down and wipped off his shirt. So me and J eat lunch, and finish out our day.

The way our school is oriented, there is a line of busses that stack end to end, pretty much covering the entrance of the school, becuase thats where the long sidewalk is, that goes over the whole place. Anyway, behind that line of busses is the parking lot. So it looks like this.

School |

Parking Lot |
| | | | |

Anyway, long story short, L finds J as he is walking to his car in the parking lot, and starts to talk all that talk that means he is going to fight him sort of thing. Anyway, when L is done yelling at him, J just says "I’m not going to fight you, I apoligized for spilling my potatoe salad on you, and I apoligize again, so you can fight me if you want, but I am not going to fight back. I am standing right here, and not really doing anything, I wasn’t going to get myself involved. Anyway, L ran and J and tackled him to the ground, I went to pull L off of him, but all of L’s friends pulled me back.

At the end of the fight J had two broken ribs, a broken nose, and he is going to need reconstructive surgery on his face, because L ground his face on the pavement, and I literally mean he ground it in there, there isn’t much left of his cheecks, chin, and nose.

I am killing myself over this(not literally) but I am really shaken up, I feel as though I should have done somthing. Or do you think that would have made things worse? The idea behind pascifism is that you can solve disagreements without fighting. Now, in a way this did happen, becuase L was arrested and taken away and will probobly not graduate, and may go to prison. But then again, J isn’t going to be the same either, he won’t have most of his face anymore, until he gets surgery (Whcih I don’t know if he can afford or not, his family isn’t very wealthy).

All over spilled potatoe salad. What are your opinions on anything I’ve said? And do you think I should have done somthing more, I did have some time where I could have hurt him, rather then just try to pull him off.

Also, what are your thoughts on pacifism in general?

Good Day!

all you can do is hope the police do something, and have him hire an attorney to sue the school district…

pacifists are easy targets and have short life spans as you are finding out…


That is a very sad story. Those individuals should be ashamed of themselves. One problem there might be however is whether or not you and your friend are being assertive. It is one thing not to want violence, but you cannot let people step all over you or direct authority over you. I do hope the best for you and your friend. Keep us in touch with his condition.


Don’t be so hard on yourself. You might have made things worse or maybe even been beaten up yourself. It’s always easy to look back and think of things you should have done. You’ll drive yourself crazy doing that.

Pacifism? Right idea, but once-in-a-while at the wrong time. There’s a time for everything, and there are some things worth fighting for.

It’s easy to second guess yourself too much after the fact, although if you couldn’t even reach your friend after he was tackled, I doubt you could’ve done anything prior to that point either (e.g. L’s friends could’ve stopped you from helping) if I’m understanding the situation correctly. Also, had you and J fought back, L would’ve been that much more justified, and probably been more aggressive in his assault (assuming he and his friends are stronger/bigger), and he may not have been punished as severely. So it seems that pacifism works out for that situation.

I hope your situation turns out, but don’t get too lost in regret.

As for pacifism in general, if humanity really has a chance of harmonic existence (i.e. everyone being content/happy), then pacifism is a good route to go, because people would be capable of living without having to inflict loss on others. I don’t think pacifism can be easily applied to people or nations in the world today though, because the world is such that at least some degree of assertion and self-defense is necessary to keep off impressions of weakness and reduce the damage that violence does. In other words, I think the best policy is to seriously avoid and repudiate violence, but not to refuse to use a violent defense if the stakes for doing otherwise are too high.

I practice something I like to call practical pacifism. Essentially, I do not seek violence and avoid it (just walk away) when I can. When I see someone being beaten or attacked however, I will use physical force to defend that person. I think it nicely balances my loathing for violence, my ideals of peace and compromise, and the sometimes disgusting reality of the way peoplea ct.

In your case, I would have defended J with violence, not because violence is positive, but because protecting innocent people is of ethical and logical value.

You must decide just how much of a pacifist you are. This will involve some real soul searching. Are you willing to actually die before you’ll fight back? That sounds good in theory, but it can be harder when the rubber hits the road. All animals, even mice, are programmed with a fight-or-flight response; nature has programmed you to survive at all costs. Conditioning and/or attitude can sometimes overcome this, but you never know.

You see how dangerous any fight can become. People routinely die from just the type of fight you describe, and many more are maimed. If anyone offers you violence, there is a chance you’ll be killed. So philosophically, I feel there are only two levels of violence, none and ultraviolence. I honestly feel that one is morally justified in killing anyone who physically attacks you. Now in practice I don’t think that’s a practical response, and is not legally justified, I speak only in the abstract.

It’s been said that violence is rarely the answer, but when it is it’s the only answer. You should always avoid fighting whenever you can, and pride is totally irrelevant. No one should feel ashamed of themselves by talking their way out of or running from a fight. BUT if violence can’t be avoided, you very truly must destroy your attacker. Whether you realize it or not, there’s an excellent chance that it’s you or him.

Make it him.


Me and Detrop are coming to kick the shit out of the guy who ground your friend’s face into the pavement. After non-resisting like that there is absolutely no need for any of what you described.

Gobbo is pissed.

I appreciate the sentiment.

Though, I got a call from J’s parents, and they said that he will not need any surgery on his face, I guess it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Usually its like that with cuts and stuff, especially scrapes, lots of shallow torn skin / dirt in there and stuff. I am going to go see him tomarrow after class, hes doing okay they said. Still the cost of the ER trip though, and all the broken bones, which is going to add up. Hopefully they get some kind of settlement in this.

So I guess at the end of the day pacifism did win out. J is still hurt of course, but broken bones heal. L will have a Assault and Battery on a minor charge for a long time, and he will be an ex-con for the rest of his life when he gets out of jail / pays bail.

Don’t get me wrong you guys, J didn’t just stand there and do nothing, he tried to protect himself, covered his face, blocked some hits, etc. L is a pretty buff football player though.

Anywho, my nerves have calmed a bit.

BTW! I forgot to add— The reason this fight went on for about 30 or so seoonds, was becuase the school cop couldn’t get out there in time, becuase of the arrangement of the busses. I didn’t just include that terriblly time consuming ASCII art picture for fun.

Good Day!
-Harrison :wink:

I don’t get how relying on cops and lawyers is any different than fighting yourself, ethically speaking. You’re still implicitly relying on violence or the threat of violence (which is what a police force is) to keep order. But I guess if you’re not comfortable doing a little dirty work yourself and are more comfortable just letting others do it, then it’s not a big issue. Pragmatically anyway. I still think there’s a tad bit of moral inconsistency there (nothing bad on you for that – I commend the compassion that I’m assuming is involved in your desire not to partake in violence explicitly).

Anyway, regarding the efficacy of non-violence, don’t be surprised when it doesn’t work out very well in individual circumstances. Ghandi’s non-violent protest movement worked not because everyone you come up against will be unwilling to hit an unarmed person, but because there were WAY more Indians than British (the violent ‘oppressors’, basically) and it was a large group willing to put themselves on the line together such that the British would have to massacre the non-violent protesters, which in turn would spark anger and violence from all the other Indians. In other words, even Ghandi was to some extent relying on the threatened violence of the masses (as retribution for a slaughter) in order for his methods to work.

I still admire Ghandi and company, but I think it helps to recognize that removing one’s self umpteen steps from the violence doesn’t mean you aren’t in some sense still partaking. In other words, we can’t escape a violent world right now, we have yet to find a way to get order without the threat and use of violence (without the occasional use, threats become empty and ignored). I don’t know what the solution is (change human nature technologically?), but something in the spirit of non-violence still appeals to me. That said, because I recognize the larger situation, I also think that even a non-violent pacifist is not being immoral or anything if they occasionally decide that some level of force would help minimize the damage of a situation (say by intervening for a friend…or even learning Aikido to disable an attack without having to really hurt the other person). So I’d say pacifism is great, but it need not be rigid. Work within your own conscience, and if you think you should have helped your friend, then I say you would not have been wrong or immoral to do so!

That said, the situation you describe, if it really went down like that, is horrible, and I’m sorry it happened, and hope your friend gets better quick.

Gloam, this may sound combative, but do you believe in fighting in court? I think your friend, in addition to whatever criminal case is made, could sue L in civil court for cost of hospital bills (and pain and suffering, but that might be considered retributive).

As to pacifism, it would be nice to live in peace with people, but that is only practical as long as they are willing to live in peace with you. “A good war is better than a bad peace.”

Dittos on learning Aikido.

Easy targets are the ones mouthing off and pushing people around.

A 93 year old pacifist I know rather well (who is considerably older than impenitent (who is unlikely, statistically, to reach this age)), would say that pacifism is not necessarily about resolving disagreements without fighting. If you are a true pacifist your reasons come first and you believe it proper to die before raising a fist to another human being. In this sense, you and your friend stayed true to your ideals and if they are ideals you believe strongly in, you can only feel proud.

The question is not ‘Would my friend have been less hurt if he had decided to fight back’ but ‘would my friend have been less hurt if he had been better at talking his way out of trouble’. Which would be easier - learning how to fight someone stronger than you or learning how to talk him out of wanting to hurt you? Sometimes, reason isn’t the way to talk someone down.

Imp will now provide you with some catchy phrases on how to live longer by getting into fights, while slyly insulting entire swaythes of individuals, who just happen to be poorly represented on this board and apparantly in his life in general. :slight_smile:

catchy phrases? nah… fighting isn’t that wonderful. packing and using heat is that wonderful.

and who can I insult (slyly no less)? mmmm…

I do not wish to insult (slyly or not)…



did you scream as many insults at L as you possibly could?
“you stupid fucking failure. look at yourself”

“way to go, youve proven you have bigger muscles and are angry”

“are you proud of yourself?”

“your parents raised you wrong”

“you will never accomplish anything in your life”

“practically everybody is smarter than you”

“practically everybody pities you and wishes you would change”

adding “look at yourself” to the end of all these would probably good.

these things, if properly understood and accepted, are like five stabs in the face and require no actual violence. i would add a spit or two in his face on top of that. i wonder if a pacifist can actually say this stuff and still be a pacifist.

I’m not a pacifist, for the record…!