Frederick Douglass said, "Where there is no struggle, there is no life." Struggle is frequently crucial to progress, but is also so often misunderstood. Thanks to my journalist friend and Web editor Brooke Shelby Biggs for calling my attention to a wonderful essay by Steve Schroeder in "In Media Res," an online intellectual journal, that makes this argument eloquently.
Schroeder, a college ethics professor, told his class that he opposed the bombing in Afghanistan. Their response was swift and absolute: "We can't just do nothing," they said, as though bombing or doing nothing were the only choices. This, says Schroeder, is the crux of pacifism's image problem:
"Where pacifism is a minority position suspected of aiding and abetting the 'enemy,' 'pacifism' is often read as 'passivism.' But pacifism is not passive. Pacifists are often cantankerous, sometimes confrontational, and frequently argumentative -- particularly in times of war. Pacifists may be off radar in times of relative peace, but war fever makes us visible. This is a reminder (conveyed most powerfully in life stories of people like Dorothy Day or Mahatma Gandhi) that not all struggle is violent. Violence is never the right choice, but struggle often is."
In other news, I'm off this weekend to Ghana, where The Body Shop already sources several key ingredients through our Community Trade Program. I hope to visit the women's cooperative that supplies our shea butter, and the Kuapa Kokoo farmer's cooperative, which supplies our cocoa butter. Come back next week for tales of my adventures there.