Peace is the only battle worth waging
22nd October 2020
‘Peace is the only battle worth waging’. (Albert Camus 1913-60)
The quotation this week comes from the philosopher Albert Camus and was written the day after America dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It seems pertinent to have this on the week of Remembrance Sunday and a week in which people around the world will be remembering their dead on ‘All Souls Day’.
Born poor into a working-class neighbourhood in French-Algeria, Albert Camus gained a unique perspective about life and went on to develop what became known as the philosophy of the absurd. His humble beginnings led him to see the need to embrace all that life has to offer and to endure no matter what the challenges are. He was in Paris when the Germans invaded France during World War II in 1940 and he joined the French Resistance where he served as editor-in-chief on an outlawed resistance newspaper called ‘Combat’. After the war he became a kind of celebrity figure and gave many lectures around the world.
Where he differed from other philosophers of his time such as Jean –Paul Sartre was in his rejection that any means should be used in pursuit of change. He did not accept ‘the end justifies the means’, a notion endorsed by so many revolutionaries.
He had witnessed the horrors perpetrated in pursuit of goals during World War II and although recognising the need for resistance of tyranny, understood that violence begets violence and the means may indeed become a part of the end you achieve. And that is why he rejected the way of the revolutionary communists.
Camus believed that life is a search for meaning and although life may seem at times impossible or ‘absurd’ we must not give into hopelessness. As in the ‘Myth of Sisyphus’ we must not give up but keep going with our efforts (even if some in the end are fruitless) to bring change where change is needed.
When we look around our world we could feel that peace is in short supply yet if we look carefully we will also find evidence of those have not and do not give in to hopelessness or resort to violence in pursuit of a more fair and just society.
‘Peace is the only battle worth waging’ and let us be the means towards that end.