Putting a New Face on Pacifism | Corinna Hill | TEDxGallaudet


Hello. It’s an honor to be
standing here with you. My name is Corinna. Let me take a moment
to introduce myself. I’m a woman. I’m deaf. I’m many things. I’m also, and get ready, I’m going to say the
dirty “p” word. A pacifist. It was scary to out myself
as a pacifist. And I’ll talk more
about that later. But before
I talk more about pacifism, I want
to talk about war. I couldn’t find an
appropriate sign for pacifism, so I will
be finger spelling it throughout my
presentation. War is a word that
invokes heroes, on the battlefield, sacrificing,
soldiers dying. Every day people sign up
to support our country. The U.S. Army promotes on
national TV, “Please sign up.” My Facebook newsfeed has
numerous posts about honoring
our fallen soldiers and pictures of American flags. I read a story and cried about a soldier returning home to his beloved dog. I’m so proud that our
soldiers have that patriotism. I was always taught
to look up to these individuals as heroic and performing
heroic acts of patriotism. I couldn’t separate in my head war being something awful
and heroic. A pacifist really
struggles with that. We have to
support war to be a patriot but it really took a long journey for me. Because you can, in fact,
be a pacifist and a patriot. I want each one of you
to do me a simple favor. Keep this in mind. What’s the
first thing you think of when I say the word “pacifist”? What’s the first image? I asked that exact same
question of other students here on campus. Common answers were Quakers,
hippies, or someone weird. Many modern-day
pacifists like myself don’t fit the ideology of being
a Quaker or a hippie. I might be a little bit weird. I can admit that. But that doesn’t match what
a modern day pacifist is. But if you Goggle pacifism, you’ll see lots of pictures. Words and texts that say
pacifists are someone with the nutty idea that
war is a bad thing. Or that pacifists
are weak. Showing a negative
attitude towards pacifism and those who believe
in that ideology. It took a long personal
journey for me to analyze my own personal
identity as a pacifist. That’s what I want
to talk about. Why was I so uneasy
about outing myself as a pacifist? I had to talk
to myself first. Corinna, okay,
you can do it. You can do it. Why did I struggle? It’s really a blessing,
I think social media. Because you can reach out
to other pacifists and share our similar
experiences. I realized that many
pacifists like me today are okay with
outing ourselves. But it is difficult to face people’s negative
assumptions and attitudes. I even have some friends
who served in the military, and I remember
telling them I was a pacifist, and I remember them saying you’re betraying your friends who are serving their
country in war. That took me aback. I had to think about
it for a while. Even if you look at Goggle
images and say “pacifist” the reactions are horrible
and very negative. This clearly shows the viewpoint that the typical American
has here in our country. And that is something that
we are often faced with. We are afraid
to out ourselves. We’re afraid to gather
and get together and talk about what it means
to be a pacifist. I also want to talk to you about several other common
reactions that we get. Not all pacifists share the same
common experience, but we do get similar
reactions. Like pacifists are against
or anti-government. You slap the
soldiers in the face with the words that you say. People will say, “Why
do you hate America?” These are common reactions
that pacifists get, and that’s not true of myself nor my other pacifist friends. We respect our soldiers
and all that they do. We just don’t support war. People make assumptions that lead us to doubt ourselves. In fact, many pacifists
like me right now are afraid to even identify
ourselves as such. I am a pacifist because
I love my country. I cannot stand idle by
and watch wars that cost millions of dollars
and kill thousands of people and support that. I could make an argument
that people often assume pacifists are not patriots. That’s not
a correct assumption. But pacifists are patriots. Hard core. We stand for our country. We stand behind
our soldiers. Inside the pacifist world,
there is diversity amongst beliefs, philosophy
and points of view. Some pacifists in
fact do support war. They support the concept
of “just war.” And some pacifists support war
for religious beliefs, moral values, there is diversity amongst the
pacifist community. We come from different
cultural backgrounds different languages
that we use, but we are unified
that we are pacifists. Today’s lecture,
as I speak to you, this is Corinna’s view
of what I am as a pacifist. I speak for myself
and myself only. I wanted to talk with you
today because it is time that we call
for new pacifist movements. I want to take a moment
and emphasize today’s TEDx is not about solutions. It is about
spreading ideas. I don’t stand in front of
you today saying that I have the
perfect solution. But I do have the desire to spark debate about
patriotism. And military budgets. I want to spark more
conversation about pacifism itself. That’s my goal for
speaking with you today. Your view of pacifism,
pacifists, the assumptions you may have
had going back from the 1960’s and the peace movement of
past generations, those principles,
those abstract concepts of what the world is don’t
fit modern-day pacifists. My generation have
advanced technology. We live in a new
technological age. And I can’t identify with
the philosophy of the 1960’s. I like to see things
happen rapidly, now. I’m not interested in
growing my hair out and making a sign and marching
around buildings. Or braiding my hair and
putting flowers in them. I’m not interested in
starving for world peace. I want to see action, and
I want to see it now. That is a shared focus
of my generation. We do believe in social
justice, and that is the mold that pacifists must meet. Pacifism does not look
like it did in the 1960’s, but it has some of
the same underpinnings. Pacifists have struggled
to pave the way for us in modern day 2014, but I
think the problem is today many of us pacifists again
don’t fit that old mold. World peace is possible,
but I’m not sure exactly how! Maybe through the
ideology of pacifism. It may take some other
movements as well. I have faced
a lot of situations because of these negative
assumptions and attitudes. Personally,
I want to thank those who have paved the way for me
and broke down walls and barriers, for me to stand
on this stage today, I thank those who
have come before me. But it’s time
for a new path. I want to thank them for
creating that path, but we need to pave a new way. A new pacifism. With the advancement
in technology military have nuclear warfare. Countries have access
to nuclear technology. That concerns me. That concerns a lot of us. Nuclear war is
a possibility. And we also still have
that idea that war looks what we saw in those
battlefields, right? Where one side heads
toward the other side and there is great
battle in the middle. That’s not what war
looks like today. War takes place
with night vision goggles, killing the enemy from hundreds
and hundreds of yards away. War has changed,
war has evolved. The war of the 60’s and ’70’s is not the war
of the 21st century. If we have a new movement,
a new war, that requires new pacifism. And we must evolve. We have the largest
military, the largest military budget. And that gives us status. America, that gives
America power. But that also comes with
negativity as well. If we increase our
military technology, if we increase our military
strategies and dollars, that’s exhausting. We are the top military
power in this world. And my suggestion today is that we do not
need to stay on top! We can’t! Because if we don’t, well
if we don’t stay on top, then someone will
in fact take our place. America is a very generous
and giving country. We are passionate
and very empathetic to other countries,
and I’m inspired by that. But when we enter in war, we really contradict ourselves. We need to take these
passions that we have off the battlefield. Peace is our battle cry. We need to band
together to unify. Our country cannot
continue down this slope. We need to change. We need to do something. I could talk all night
about war, about the soldiers who
are coming home. One casualty report that
was sent from Congress to 2007 to 2010 show that
there were 103,000 soldiers with PTSD, and those
numbers are steadily increasing. We spend more money on wars than we spend on healthcare
and education. War is destroying
the nation’s fabric! War is destroying and fractionalizing
military families! We’re ousting those
individuals who live in the countries where
we begin these wars. We continue to borrow
money to sustain these wars. Wars destroy other
countries’ economies. Our military
has better technology than the American classroom. A wise person told me that we have the
Department of the Defense, but we don’t have
a department of peace, and that is why
we must call for a new movement of pacifism. A push that will allow
us to start talking. We need to start talking
about our military budget. Start dialoguing
about our military and the killing
of innocent victims. That is absolutely
happening. How to provide better resources and support for those soldiers who are returning
to their homes. We don’t have
a perfect solution. I told you that earlier. I stand in front of you
with the desire to spark conversation. And I believe we as
Americans have in fact an obligation to start
this discussion. I love my country. I love peace. I want both. One of my favorite quotes. Bertrand Russell is
credited with this quote. “War does not decide
who is right. Who decided what was right
is the person who was left.” Thank you.