Countries have struggled if we should go to war, and people have struggled if they should interfere with criminals, and students struggle with if they should stand up to a bully. Indeed, after many fights are long underway people look back and say it was a bad fight to get in.
Yet we here father’s telling their sons to stand up and fight! And politicians say we will combat evil. So is fighting the best option?
Sun Tzu wrote, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
Fighting is better than doing nothing. Without soldiers to invade dictatorships, police to fight criminals and kids to punch bullies, people would cause harm out of greed and self-interest. No matter the costs, evil needs to be stopped. Otherwise it will spread and take over everything good. Standing up to evil by fighting does a lot of good. It deters people from being evil. When people know their bad deed will be challenged, they don’t do it.
However, fighting has its flaws. Fighting results in a lot of collateral damage and horrors. Starting a ear leads to buildings being bombed and fields being destroyed. A police chase can result in car accidents and pedestrians run-over. Fighting a criminal leads to gunshots which hit innocent bystanders. And fighting the school bully may cause physical and emotional damages to yourself and the bully.
There is a better option. Consider that fighting is not a binary choice. There is a third option: find another way. The goal of the fight is to stop the evil. But fighting itself is an evil act. It’s an attempt to harm another. Fighting evil with evil, while maybe necessary to save the life of an innocent, accelerates the evil and allows it to grow. Finding a way around fighting gives you a chance to make the evil to diminish and not return.
A country with a dictator can be changed with a coup-d’etat and mass civil protests, resulting in less casualties than war. A criminal can be talked down or trapped. A bully can make a friend or be tricked. While some of these options are still aggressive, they allow good to stand up to evil with as small damage as possible.
Evil invites lose-lose outcomes, buy inviting an evil response. But by having a good response, we can have win-lose outcomes, and even possibly a win-neutral outcome, if the attacker lose his freedoms or health.
And the fight need not only apply to man vs man but man vs nature as well. Whenever we are in conflicts that seem to have only two bad choices, we need to think outside the box and try something else.
Good will always beat evil. Good can do good while being good as well. By teaching the skills of creativity, teamwork, and problem-solving, we prepare for a future where good will prevail and everybody is better off.