One of the strongest motivations in the promotion of peace has been religion, the objection to war being, in general, based on the belief that the willful taking of human life is wrong. The Eastern religions, especially Buddhism, decry war and advocate nonresistance. There has also been a strong pacifistic element in Judaism and Christianity. The Sermon on the Mount, in particular, contains a strong exhortation to peace. The church generally voiced opposition to war as such (with the notable exception of the Crusades); in the Middle Ages the truce of God was the outcome of ecclesiastical attempts to halt private warfare. Some later sects—especially the Anabaptists, Quakers, Moravians, Dukhobors, and Mennonites—have elevated nonresistance to a doctrinal position.
Another motivating force in pacifism has been humanitarianism and the humanitarian outrage at the destruction caused by war. Economic motives have also played a part in pacifist arguments; the pacifists condemn the economic waste of war, which they claim is avoidable. International cooperation and pacifism are closely connected, and pacifists usually advocate international agreements as a way to insure peace. Pacifism is also closely connected with movements for international disarmament.
Sections in this article:
- Pacifism in the Nineteenth Century
- Pacifism in the Twentieth Century
- Prominent Pacifists
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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