The ultimate argument in the course of human events, whether personal, national, cultural, or political in nature has always been, "Do what I want or I will kill you."
Sucks huh? But the fact is it works like a charm and it doesn't have to be cool with anybody or fit anyplace into a neat world view or some fanciful Disneyland idea of a just universe. The meek may inherit the earth, but only after the strong have moved elsewhere and don't want it any more. Yeah, it's like that and it's always been like that. The pen is only mightier than the sword when the pen can convince a whole lot of swords to stand behind him.
When a person or culture approaches you, the opposition, with the commitment, willingness, and ability to use lethal force to get something done, and you do not have an equal or greater ability and willingness to respond in kind, then you do what they say or you die. Shake and spin and dance and bleat however you like, this has not and will not change. It is human history.
I bring all this up because I lately hear a lot of people talking about what they are willing to die for, as if this is somehow the ultimate sacrifice. Whether six feet of Arlington, or a green hippie funeral with the Grateful Dead playing in the background, we all get there eventually. We all end up dead whether we ever fought a battle, or took up a cause, or did anything meaningful with our time on this rock to make a difference about anything. Death is not a moral sacrifice, it is a certainty. We all have a ticket on that bus and we will all one day climb aboard whether we were ever committed to anything in our whole fucking lives or not. We may postpone it and few actually seek it, but we all get death in the end.
Killing, on the other hand, is a choice. You can easily go from one end of a human lifespan to the other without killing anyone at all. Most people manage to do it. At whatever point in life it occurs it requires an action and it requires a level of commitment. An enemy can make you dead, they cannot make you kill. People who die at the hands of others usually did not choose to do so. The people who killed them were the ones that made the choice and committed to a course of action.
The thing I notice is that when the entity that is willing to kill meets the entity that is only willing to die there isn't much difficulty in working out who gets to go home that night and fuck the prom queen. The meek in most cases inherit however much of the earth it takes to cover them up and not much more.
General George Patton, who was undeniably a crazed bloodthirsty son of a bitch, pointed out in a famous speech that you don't win by dying for your country. You win by making the other silly son of a bitch die for his country. Yes, not a pretty paradigm but it works. It isn't nice and it isn't cool and we don't get to sit around weaving hemp jewelry and waving a sign on a stick while we do it. Still I'd have to say it's fairly clear to me. If you tell me "I am ready to die for my beliefs" and your oppositions tells me "I am ready to kill for my beliefs" I may not be able to tell you who is right, but I can damn sure tell you who will be left.
When measuring a level of commitment I don't look at what people are willing to die for. Lots of people are willing to risk death rather than quit smoking, dying is something we all have to do eventually. When I am measuring a level of commitment I always ask "what are you willing to kill for?" In the end the measure of total commitment to an objective is not what I might give my life in pursuit of, but rather what I would take someone else's life in pursuit of.
This is copied from a whole 'nother world. I didn't write it, but I don't want to loose it and I'd like my kids to read it some day, so this seemed like the place to put it. It's... harsh... but honest and for the most part... I think it's true. I hope they never have arguments on the "ultimate" level, but if they do, I'd rather they had thought about this before hand.