🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Henry Kissinger has died at 100: his legacy in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China - Vox'
I knew Kissinger’s name, but I was embarrassingly unfamiliar with his record (especially given the many international relations and poli sci classes I took in college). This was a helpful—and difficult—read. It’s especially jarring to read this while reading up on non-violence and consuming fiction on the brutal cynicism of the cold war. There was a time in my life where I would have acknowledged the complexity behind these decisions, but I can’t see how anyone could accept that complexity as somehow justifying the loss of life and other tragedies.
🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Gaza Civilians, Under Israeli Barrage, Killed at Historic Pace - The New York Times'
I had been reading and thinking about non-violence for months before the 2023 Israel-Hamas war started, but its outbreak is making me more committed to the idea than any abstract philosophical argument. I’m more inclined than ever before to believe that military force can never be justified, and I think that’s especially true in cases where civilians are deliberately targeted (or allowed to be caught in the attack). Hamas’s attack on Israeli civilians is unjustifiable, the IDF’s seeming disregard for Gazan civilians is unjustifiable, the U.
One of the more awkward passages in the Book of Mormon (at least from an ecumenical perspective—there’s much worse in there) is in I Nephi 3:220-222, where an angel has this to say with Nephi, the current narrator of the book: “Behold, there are save two churches only: the one is the church of the Lamb of God and the other is the church of the devil. Wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.
Twice this month already I’ve written about whether and how to try to play according to one’s values in games. Both posts have been inspired by Lotus Dimension, a TTRPG that explicitly encourages finding nonviolent solutions to in-game problems. In my first post, I expressed interest in the game because it “allow[s] and encourage[s] other paths to vidtory.” In my second, though, I wondered whether that were good enough: “Is ethical behavior in a game because the system of the game rewards that behavior truly ethical?
After several years of having it vaguely on my wish list (ever since Cory Doctorow’s post about it on Boing Boing), I finally picked up a copy of Lotus Dimension, a tabletop roleplaying game with an intentional emphasis on resolving problems through non-violence. I’ve been reading a lot on non-violence lately, and even though I still have a lot to learn, I’ve been asking recently whether a commitment to non-violence in real life would be incompatible with enjoying games where violence is one of the key ways to achieve victory.
I bought this pamphlet over a decade ago, in the gift shop at the Mémorial de Caen. I’d heard that it had influenced the Occupy protests, and even though I wasn’t sure I liked the Occupy protests (in 2012, I was a right-leaning centrist who would eventually vote Romney), I figured I ought to better understand them. I wasn’t sure I liked this pamphlet either when I first read it, but it’s been a while and my political views have marched leftward, so it was time for a rereading.
It took me six months to finally read this book, but it’s exactly what I hoped for, so it was worth the wait. Some of Merton’s essays are more compelling than others, but his fierce condemnation of war and advocacy for peace is moving. I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this.
When I made the decision to join Community of Christ, it wasn’t (just) because this was a denomination that aligned with my current religious and social values, but because I knew it would be a denomination that pushed me to improve my current religious and social values. I know that I have room to grow in being a better person and in making the world a better place, and I felt that Community of Christ is a denomination that would not only show me grace for who I was but also walk with me as I tried to grow in these ways.