TED Talks: Peter van Uhm: Why I chose a gun

I’m continually surprised by how many times I’ve recommended TED Talks — those incredibly thought-provoking, inspiring, often moving products of the various TED conferences held around the world — to people who have never heard of them, for I find them so thoroughly accessible, with each talk lasting no more than 18-20 minutes.

I mean, we can all find time for a few of these a day, or more scattered throughout the week. Right?

Well, it’s been a while since I last posted a TED Talks video, and today I’ve got a juicy one for you.

This was a challenging video for me, as I suspect it would be for most of my fellow peaceniks. The assertion made by Peter van Uhm, Chief of Defense for The Netherlands, that guns and armies are necessary tools for peace, rubs me the wrong way. And yet, having been raised Jewish, I carry the inherited trauma of the Holocaust, and I’ve struggled my whole life with the question of whether or not violent military action is justifiable in order to save people from oppression or genocide.

Now, I don’t agree with everything that Mr. van Uhm says, but I admire the TED organization for inviting him to speak and present his case, and he does so eloquently, with great sensitivity, and with great respect for his fellow TED presenters and attendees, who are trying to make the world a better, more peaceful place via a variety of other means.

3 thoughts on “TED Talks: Peter van Uhm: Why I chose a gun

  1. Unfortunately we live in a much less civilised world than we would like.. caracterised by greed on the one hand and extreme poverty on the other.
    I am a peacenik too but I ask myself this – if my children were directly threatened I’d want someone to protect them if I couldn’t – right?
    I was against the Iraq war but then I talked with an old colleague of mine – an Iraqi woman , who had escaped Sadam after having been imprisoned by him for some years just for being a Bahai; whose father had not been seen for over 15 years until the liberation… also imprisoned for being a Bahai ( It’s a religion – google it if you don’t already know about it) Several other members of her family killed by him..She was SOOOO grateful to the “invaders” for saving her country from him… a very different perspective
    Of course I’d like every diplomatic avenue to be tried and for the world to be peaceful and that’s what we should all aim for..

    I’ll be quite now ! thanks for the thought provoking post!

  2. Until the mind of man fundamentally changes there will always be those eager to use force on others. In the world as it is the only way to silence or staunch those eager to use force is to use it against them. Being killed, raped, or imprisoned does nothing to prevent the same from happening to someone else. Killing, maiming, or imprisoning the aggressor does.

    As a man who was in the military I can say I and most of the men and women I served with did not want to use violence however we were prepared to if need be. That ability to be prepared to do what one wishes one will not need to do gives pause to those whose first option is force. It keeps the peace. It allows others to live in a world where not even considering that preparation is possible.

    In short being a total pacifist is only a privilege that is given by those who are not. It is the eternal conundrum for our species, and our souls. To live as may wish to the very things we despise must also exist.

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