Yes, But Kinda

I am a pacifist. Well, I probably shouldn't use those words in that order. A more accurate statement would be: I try to be a pacifist.

As far as pacifism is concerned, I'm a terrible pacifist. I’m bad. I've read and reread many of Stephen King's books, stories and novels that are gloriously violent. I include both Fight Club and The Matrix in my list of all-time favorite movies and both films are smorgasbord of gunplay and fist fights. I own (and play) several violent video games from Street Fighter to Grand Theft Auto to Call of Duty. I watch football and hockey more than any other sport and they're known for player injuries and five-minute penalties for fighting.

To recap: I'm a pacifist with reading preferences skewed toward violence, who still loves bloody mayhem in movies, has no qualms committing acts of violence in fantasy (just averse to doing so in real life), and is a fan of violent athletic competitions.

Outside of entertainment, I still might be the worst possible advocate for pacifism. At least once a week, I ponder how satisfying it would be to throat-punch someone. I would never strike a Nazi, but I wouldn't object if someone else hit a Nazi. Simple schadenfreude (deriving satisfaction from observing someone else's unintentional yet self-inflicted pain and/or misfortune) is one of my greatest indulgences. My inner mind applauds when I see arrogance humbled, impatience forced to wait, or folly find failure. Those are thought patterns a good pacifist would abhor.

The allure is difficult for me to resist. However, I realize how the cycle of violence is ultimately fruitless. And I have written on this topic before. How America has a problem with violence and an obsession with guns. How when everyone is armed, it is impossible to define who is a good guy with a gun. How an armed society is not a polite society. How we all believe the myth of redemption through violence - (or a belief in violence preventing violence).

Since the dawn of humanity, we have had it backwards, placing too much value in vicious methods. Violence begets more violence. It escalates. It isn't a solution, it is an invitation to retaliation. In a violent world, no one wins.

I know these facts, yet I still read books with violent protagonists and villains, play video games where I control violent and heavily armed characters, and watch TV shows and movies filled with acts of violence. My values are walking contradictions. I am one part Tyler Durden and one part Mahatma Gandhi. It is my own cognitive dissonance where I simultaneously avoid and consume violence. I am a spectator and a participant, a critic and a curator.

So I will call myself a part-time pacifist. A pacifist in theory only. An angry pacifist. A lousy excuse of a pacifist. I am one, even if I'm not a good at it.

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