A.J. Muste, who lived a long and eventful life as a known "peace agitator," is pictured here with young men burning their draft cards. Muste had his own way of talking about "ends and means."
There is no way to peace, said Muste. Peace is the way.
Muste's insight can be seen as a true example of the philosophy of "consequentialism." Muste rejects the "ends justify the means" approach not by saying that unconscionable actions are wrong in themselves, but by observing that they simply don't "work."
If means are supposed to be "justified" by the ends sought, then our nation's most unconscionable activities (like torture and murder) should be producing some demonstrably positive results. Then, just maybe, the "ends" would, in fact, "justify" the "means."
I am not seeing any great "success" attributed to the drone killings that CIA Director Panetta claims are so "effective." There is a website dedicated to documenting the number of deaths associated with the current war in Afghanistan. How do those deaths, and that war, correlate to positive progress towards a world without terror? That war in Afghanistan is called, should you need to be reminded, "Operation Enduring Freedom."
Maybe it is time for the government to do more than assert that the horrible "means" that we are using are "necessary" because they are achieving such important "ends" (like "enduring freedom," for instance).
Maybe, we whose government it is, and in whose name the killing is being done, should begin to demand some actual proof that the "ends" that are supposed to justify such admittedly murderous "means," are in fact actually being achieved.
If we approached the moral issues from that perspective (truly an approach consistent with an honest "consequentialism"), we might all conclude, with Muste, that if peace is our objective, then there is no "way" to peace. "Peace is the way."
Thursday, June 24, 2010
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