Tao Te Ching – Chapter 31
Weapons of violence
are contrary to the common good, no matter how skillfully used.
So we vow to do no harm.
Faced with unavoidable violence we remember this vow,
and return immediately to peace.
Battles are not with “enemies” but with beings like ourselves.
Knowing this, we do not rejoice in victory nor take delight in the downfall of others.
Victory is an illusion and gains us nothing.
Once a battle is over we lay our weapons down and weep that this has happened.
Lao-Tzu was not a complete pacifist. He realized that, in the world of Yin and Yang that occasionally – very occasionally – a “violent” action might be necessary. He did not, however, as do many modern apologists for warfare, assume that violence was a fundamental right of nation states. Weapons of violence and violence itself are inseparable partners and both are harmful to the human psyche.
Have we ever wept at a victory? We should. “Mission accomplished” is a callous and despicable way of expressing the death of tens of thousands of human beings. Every single member of the armed forces should be seen as a wounded victim of a misguided expression of fear and treated with healing and restorative energy. We should weep that they were put in that position and offer them our apologies. My son recently retired from a career in the Army that included three deployments to war zones. I know what I am talking about.