If you’re going to go the peace route, then why not go all the way to pacifism. I am not that peaceful a person myself. On a personal level I am easily irritated and find myself arguing about things I don't even care about. And on a global level, I’m not sure you ought to avoid war in the most extreme case, like as with WWII. I needed help with this one. I told my neighbor Elmer Fontaine about this. He told me he was a pacifist, which surprised me, and that he would let me interview him if I cared to. Elmer is 90 something and ornery as a muskox. He has had a hell of a life, was in WWII himself, bunch of divorces, internationally wayward children, horrible things on all sides of his fence. Now he says peace of mind is all he wants, which was news to me.
I interviewed him a few minutes ago on the porch of his cabin in the Blue Woods. He was whittling what looked like a strange fish or a big key, but didn’t care to say.
Q: You haven’t always been a pacifist.
Elmer: Naw, no. I raised a stink. Hell, there’s graves. I had me a temper. Still do, don’t indulge it. Buying new TVs every other day costs money. Don’t get out much to do damage, but TVs, they costly.
Q: What don’t you like on TV that gets you riled up, despite your pacifism?
Elmer: What’s that?
Q: If you're a pacifist, why do you break TVs!
Elmer: Well, have you seen it? Idiots on there! Willful liars. Bullshit artists, fools, fancy dans. Mainly liars. They know they’re lying. They don’t care. Paid to lie. Imagine that. Paid to lie, 24 hours. If you’re watching TV, you’re watching a liar. You can only take so much.
Q: Why don’t you apply your pacifist attitude toward the people on TV?
Elmer: Well, I try. I just break the TV, I don’t break them. I just break the TV. I try.
Q: No, how do you try to have a peaceful attitude toward the liars and such?
Elmer: Oh. Meditate. Breathe. Big breaths. Count to fifty. Walk around in circles. Pray.
Q: But it doesn’t work?
Elmer: Course it works.
Q: Why do you break the TVs then?
Elmer: Well, it don’t work every time.
Q: So, you pray. You’re religious?
Elmer: Hell no. Now, don’t butt into my God business. I’ll knock you to next week.
Q: I’m not hearing a lot of pacifism here, Elmer.
Elmer: What’s that?
Q: You don’t really sound like a pacifist that much, man!
Elmer: Who said I was a pacifist?
Q: You did! That’s why I’m interviewing you.
Elmer: Well, you sounded like you needed my help.
Q: So you’re not a pacifist?
Elmer: Who said I’m not? You don’t even know what a pacifist is, here you are interviewin’ one. More tea?
Q: No. OK, what is pacifism then, let’s start there.
Elmer: Well, what is peace? You want to get basic.
Q: OK, what is peace, then.
Elmer: What do you think it is?
Q: Me? I think it’s not getting upset all the time, for one thing.
Elmer: So it’s a absence of war, so to speak?
Q: I guess you could say that.
Elmer: Bzzt! Wrong!
Q: Well, what is it then? I’m not the one said I was a pacifist. If I was a pacifist, I’d interview myself. I’ll tell you what, it’d be a lot more cooperative interview than this one.
Elmer: Peace is this very conversation we’re having us right now.
Q: How in the hell do you figure that?
Elmer: Well, what could be sweeter of a peace-making circumstances? Rockin’ on the porch, watchin’ the world roll by. Drinking tummymint tea with freshpick lemon. Whittling a … whatever this is I got going here. Shootin’ the breeze with a old pal. Woods stirrin’ and a creakin’. Who could beat that for peacefulness?
Q: Um, you were getting pretty upset.
Elmer: Maybe was, maybe wasn't. If was, you’re right there with me, hollerin’ your head off.
Q: Because you can’t hear me otherwise. Get a damn hearing aid.
Elmer: Well, that’s past. That’s in the wind. And it don’t matter anyhow. People take it all personal. People take the weather personal. First rule of pacifism: Don’t take it personal.
Q: OK. That’s a start. I must say, your apparent lack of a philosophy of pacifism goes right along with your lack of a pacifist attitude and pacifist verbal expression.
Elmer: Oh, I read all the pacifist stuff. Hell, I was in France over there, world war, you know that. I know all the theories. Theories don’t touch the heart. Philosophy? Bucket of smoke. What matters is what’s in your heart.
Q: So, you can do whatever damage you want as long as your heart’s peaceful?
Elmer: Heart’s peaceful, limits what damage you want to do.
Q: Let me ask you this, from my heart. Is the only reason you’re a pacifist just that you’re too old and tired to get up off this porch and cause anybody any trouble anymore?
Elmer: I guess I’m enough a pacifist to of lived this long to get too tired to give nobody no trouble no more. If I needed to do damage, son, I could do it right from this porch here.
Q: OK. So peace is two geezers bickering on a old half-rotten porch?
Elmer: What’s that?
Q: I said so peace is--!
Elmer: No, listen.
Q: ....... Oh........ Woodpecker.
(We listened a while.)