In the dismal economic wilderness of the thirties an arch-criminal took possession of Germany (including the hearts and minds of many or most). Meanwhile pacifism reigned supreme in England, and likely much of the continent.
Hitler began to swallow up Europe, and enslave the conquered people. After he annexed much of Czechoslovakia, England's prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, went to Europe to confab with him and returning home announced "peace in our time", to great acclamation.
But the rest of Czechoslovakia soon became part of the Third Reich. Same for Austria. Then he invaded Poland, and the war began. When it looked like Hitler was about to take over their country, the Brits turned from pacifism ; they began to fight like demons.
Not so the Jews; they persevered in their pacifism and meekly allowed themselves to be slaughtered-- ten million of them.
In the long term England and the rest of the world paid a heavy price for their pacifism. Among other casualties something like 100 million people died in Russia, a trauma from which they have not recovered.
Sunday a man named John, who had spent most of his life is Laos and other countries of SE Asia rose at the Quaker Meeting to share a recent experience. He had been to that unfortunate land recently and visited a large cemetery where rested thousands of Brits, Americans, and others who had been prisoners of the Japanese. John was visibly affected by this and had difficulty finishing his message.
There had just been an anniversary of Hiroshima, which the Quakers had made much of. I knew that John was out of the mode among those good Quakers. After about 20 silent minutes I rose to share my WWII experiences. I pointed out that Cologne, and some other cities in Germany, had suffered a very similar fate, the primary difference being that more planes were used than at Hiroshima.
Agreeing that we all hate war, I ventured to suggest some positive effects of the dreadful WWII.
(Discussing this post with Ellie she pointed out that non-violence is a good and virtuous ideal in regard to protection of your own life or property, but less so when encountering horrible violence against others.
She went on to say that non violence led the Jews to go to the ovens like lambs to the slaughter, and we averted our eyes. Likewise with Somalia, Sudan, and many other recent victims of "ethnic cleansing". Can anyone do anything? Probably not because we are "good Americans" rather than members of the human race.)
I expected a torrent of 'rebuttals'-- with good reason. It came to me that John witnessed from experience while the others witnessed only a posture.
(It would not suprise me to receive a torrent of Quaker comments re this post; no, it would gratify me very much.)