Chapter 53: War
Israeli Visitor: What about war?
SWAMIJI: If you are a resident of Iraq, you will feel that the United States is doing some aggression, and it is very bad. Suppose you are a resident of America; you may feel that Mr. Bush is right, provided you are in sympathy with him.
It is a question of consequence, finally. An act can be judged from the possible consequence of doing it, or not doing it. If you do not do anything, what is the consequence? If you do, what is the consequence? Use your discretion, as a statesman. Statesmen are those who can visualise the future by inference drawn from present conditions. They do not take any action suddenly without proper thought. If you take some steps, what will be the consequence, finally? And, if you do not do anything, what will be the consequence? You weigh these two consequences, and see which is proper.
Israeli Visitor: Can you feel the result when you weigh the worth in one of these sides – "Is it still worthwhile"?
SWAMIJI: As you say, war is never good. Nobody will say that war is good, but then, why do people start war, if it is not good? Everybody, even a person who starts war, knows that it is not good. Why does he embark upon it? He feels that if he does not engage in war, maybe it will be worse still. From bad, it may becomes worse. He may be right or wrong; that is a different matter. If you don't wage war, it will be worse; so wage war, and it is bad. So, it is a choice between bad and worse; the worse is not good, so bad is better. This is how they choose.
We cannot discuss this just now, as we are not sitting in the field and seeing anything, and also cannot directly connect ourselves to it. Our judgments will be only theoretical. You are asking me a theoretical question, without knowing the actual implications of the issues at hand.
Israeli Visitor: I have been living in a country that has many wars, and this war, for instance, for my country – I come from Israel – if it was not America fighting, I know it would be my country fighting this war, some other time. But I try not to look only from this point of view, because I know that this is very conditional, because I am Israeli.
SWAMIJI: You see, you are Israeli, yes. You will certainly wish that Israel should be protected, and somebody should not attack, isn't it?
Israeli Visitor: Yes, it is true.
SWAMIJI: What will you do to protect yourself?
Israeli Visitor: The question is, is protecting myself is more important than having other people in safety?
SWAMIJI: Other people's safety also is necessary. That is, of course, you do not want to go and kill somebody, but your country also should be protected. How will you protect your country, then? What is the method?
Israeli Visitor: Some people say to protect, you have to attack; some people say...
SWAMIJI: Generally, all countries have forces which are called defense forces, but nobody has offense forces. Do you know what offense is?
Israeli Visitor: To attack.
SWAMIJI: There are defense ministers, and all that. You do not call them offense ministers. Why should you defend, unless somebody offends? Now, who is there to offend? Nobody offends, because everybody is defending only. What do you say? Everybody has a defense ministry; no offense ministry. But somebody should be offending; only then, you want to defend. But nobody says they are offending – they are only defending. Now, what is the point? Who is the offender?
Israeli Visitor: True.
SWAMIJI: But, one does not say like that. The man whom you say is offending will say he is not doing like that, but that he is only defending himself against possible trouble. He wants to defend himself against future trouble, though it looks like offending. This is what he will say, though you may say that he has made a mistake and that he is offending.
You place yourself in the position of the leader of the country, and then think through that mind. What will you do at that time? That is the answer to your question. Suppose I am the head of this particular country; what will I do at that time? How will my mind work? Now, you are judging somebody else. That is no good. You judge yourself first, as the person involved in it – at that time, what would you do? Then, you will see that your heart will tell what is good for you.
Life is a mutual anabolic and catabolic activity, as is the case with one's own body. Creation and destruction are going on simultaneously without a time-gap in every organism for the purpose of a higher form of survival. This is so in humanity as well as Nature as a whole.