Peacemaking, part 3: A Proposal to Ensure Good Motives
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Peacemaking, part 3: A Proposal to Ensure Good Motives

We humans tend to be excellent observers, but we are not always good interpreters. In particular, we often err badly when trying to assess motivations, including our own motivations. We tend to attribute bad motives to those with whom we disagree and good motives to those with whom we agree, and the latter group almost always includes ourselves.
Last essay, I argued that use of force to defend ourselves or others is sometimes justifiable. However, it can be difficult to discern whether this use of force is genuinely aimed to protect the innocent. Perhaps “defense” is just an excuse for force designed to gain money, power, or prestige. How can we be sure that our motives are good?
I suggest that whenever force is used, compensation for the victims of force should be planned and then executed, to the best of one’s ability. Compensation can take various forms, including financial (perhaps with amounts being guided by precedents in court cases for accident victims) and social (e.g., attending to the social and emotional needs of the victim and/or victim’s relatives). If we knew that we would be held accountable for any harm that we perpetrated against another, however justified we might believe this harm might be, we would use force sparingly.
Of course, with this principle, violence toward nonhuman persons should be exceedingly rare. Yet, humans are remarkable in their ability to believe one thing and to do another. As best I can tell, the vast majority of peace activists eat meat and other animal products. This strikes me as hypocritical.
Next essay, I’ll start to explore the nature and implications of hypocrisy. 

Go on to: Peacemaking, part 4: Does Hypocrisy Matter?
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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