Weapons are the tools of violence

Weapons are the tools of violence

Weapons are the tools of violence

Meditations on Two Photographs

The obscenity of war
has many faces:
Some face down and dead
in awful places.
Some, thumbs up and beaming
like a boy
In some dark death machine
posed like a toy.

Yet in disparity the ugly link
Between the grin of power
and the stink;
The smell of rotting death,
the stench of war
Is guaranteed to man
for evermore.

Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.

Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?

He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.

~ Laozi, Dao de Jing, Chapter 31
(Stephen Mitchell, trans.)

I should explain, the man in the upper photograph is Tony Abbott, Australia’s current Prime Minister. He’s seated in an F-35 Joint Strike Force fighter, boyishly celebrating his country’s purchase of an additional 58 planes (at a cost of $12 billion AUD) bringing Australia’s total to 72.

The man in the lower photograph… Well, the poem explains him well enough.

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