When we’re confronted with hard questions like, “Is violence ever justified?” or controversial topics such as military or war, we tend to oversimplify the topic.
We forget what Albert Einstein once said, which is that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Difficult questions and tough subjects are not something to be oversimplified with just a single sentence even though that’s what most people will tend to do.
If you’re at a dinner table and you bring up the topic of war, for example, and you ask everybody there, “Is violence ever justified?”
You will inevitably get some people who say, “No, we should never use violence because violence never solves anything.”
While others would say, “Of course, the ends justify the means.”
Well the clear answer for every wise person is, “It depends.”
It depends on a lot of variables: What is the violence being used, what is the violence stopping, and why did you have to use violence at all in the first place?
It is not wise, however, to always think that war is good or that being a pacifist is always right.
There are situations for both approaches.
If Martin Luther King Jr had assembled a band of brothers to rise up in arms and attack the establishment, it probably wouldn’t have been as effective as his peaceful protests were.
If WWII was tried to be won through peace, Hitler would have probably won the war and taken over all of Europe as a result.
Most historians would agree that violence was something that was needed in order to stop Hitler.
The reason we make poor judgements on issues like this though is because we have a black or white mindset that says, “This is the principle that should always be followed,” “The ends justify the means,” “Violence is never the answer.” But this is what’s known as a cult of thought, where we’re more in love with the thought than we are with the truth.
You see this thinking with specific diets, with people in relationships, and all across politics. But you cannot just find the answers, simplistic answers, in a black or white mindset.