Thoughts of Leo Tolstoy
Our leaders want to fight evil with evil ─ with punishments, prisons, executions, and so on. However, doing so only makes the punishers and the punished more and more cruel.
Imagine thinking that a group of people is bad and that you can improve them by force. They may in turn think the same about you. Why improve them and not yourself?
It may appear that violence brings justice, but it only seems that way. In reality, the only thing that leads to justice is living a free life.
Why is most religion perverted, and why is morality in decline? There is only one reason: it is because people believe in living a life based on violence.
The prejudice of violence passes from one generation to the next and continues its harm. People brought up with violence grow used to the idea that their adult lives should be filled with it.
Each act of violence not only fails to calm us down but brings increasingly more violence into our lives. Therefore, it is clear that we cannot change or improve our lives through violence. We lash out for revenge, not self-improvement.
Not only Christ but all the wise man in the world ─ Buddhist, Brahman, Taoist, and the ancient Greeks ─ taught that intelligent people should respond with good to evil.
It is clear that violence and murder make people indignant, and yet they repay violence and murder with more violence and murder. Obviously, there is an explanation for this response, but there is no way we can justify it.
The teaching of peace is a natural consequence of the teaching of love.
Many of the bad things people do, they do for themselves. Much worse things people do for their families. However, the most terrible deeds are done for their government and country ─ deception, war, spying, and killing others.
Murder is always murder, no matter why you have to kill. People who promote murder are evil even if they are judges or generals. They also are criminals. We should pity them and reeducate them.
For a wise man, his being is his homeland. He feels good wherever he goes, because his happiness is found within himself, and his spirit.
We can remove the filth from our body with soap. The same thing can be done in our communities: they too should be cleansed.
(Leo Tolstoy, Wise Thoughts for Every Day, 14, 15, 17 July)
I now understand the words of Jesus going: Ye have heard that it hath been said, and ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for tooth’; but I say unto you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other also.” Jesus’ meaning is: You have thought that you were acting in a reasonable manner in defending yourself by violence against evil, in tearing out an eye for an eye, by fighting against evil with criminal tribunals, guardians of the peace, armies; but I say unto you, “Renounce violence and have nothing to do with violence; do harm to no one, not even to your enemy.”
(Leo Tolstoy, in Flowers Along the Path, by Esther Carls Dodgen, p. 349)
War and Christianity are not compatible.
War is one of the worst, most terrible things in this world.
War in this world can be stopped not by the ruling establishment, but by those who suffer from the war. They will do the most natural thing: stop obeying orders.
The armed world and the wars it wages will be destroyed one day, but not by the kings or the rulers of this world. War is profitable for them. War will stop the moment the people who suffer from war fully understand that it is evil.
(Leo Tolstoy, A Calendar of Wisdom, 9 March)
13 March 2016