In our century of almost universal violence of humans against fellow humans and against our natural and cultural commonwealth, hypocrisy has been inescapable because our opposition to violence has been selective or merely fashionable. Some of us who approve of our monstrous military budget and our peacekeeping wars nonetheless deplore ‘domestic violence’ and think that our society can be pacified by ‘gun control.’ Some of us are against capital punishment but for abortion. Some of us are against abortion but for capital punishment. Most of us, whatever our stand on preserving the lives of the thoughtlessly conceived and born, thoughtlessly participate in and economy that steals from all of the unborn.
One does not have to know very much or think very far in order to see the moral absurdity upon which we have erected our sanctioned enterprises of violence. Abortion-as-birth-control is justified as a ‘right,’ which can establish itself only by denying all the rights of another person, which is the most primitive intent of warfare. Capital punishment sinks us all to the same level of primal belligerence, at which an act of violence is avenged by another act of violence. What the justifiers of these wrongs ignore is the fact – as well established by the history of feuds or the history of anger as by the history of war – that violence breeds violence. Acts of violence committed in ‘justice’ or in the affirmation of ‘rights’ or in the defense of ‘peace’ do not end violence. They prepare and justify its continuation.– Wendell Berry, “The Failure of War” in Citizenship Papers.