The problem of our proper reaction to war is a difficult one. The duty of defending ourselves against, or rescuing the victims of, a murderous assault seems to be a moral one and just as applicable to an international scale as to an individual one. It seems right and reasonable to believe that open aggression should be resisted and even, to a certain extent, punished.
But with the advent of the atomic and hydrogen bombs the method of fighting for any cause, even a righteous one, has become the greater of two evils where formerly it was the lesser. Where self-defense may lead to certain and suicidal self-destruction, we begin to pause, to consider, and to hesitate.
Any investigation of the destiny of nations from a philosophic point of view shows that the appearance of an aggressive invader on a people's borders must have some underlying karmic cause deeper than the obvious political or economic one. Just as the appearance of a certain unpleasant event in an individual's life is often due to corresponding faults or weaknesses in him which need to be remedied, so the invader's appearance points to deficiencies or errors in the invaded nation's inner life. They too need correction. There is no escape from this inner duty, and so long as the weaknesses remain so long will troubles appear or assaults threaten.
Until the nations achieve this moral development, they can hope only to restrict the violence and area of war, not to eradicate it. Such a restriction can be brought about by external means only by an international policing army, just as society's crime is restricted by local police. This single army to replace the many armies implies some kind of a world government. Yet national feelings are everywhere still unwilling to sacrifice themselves to a supernational government, and there is some ground for the refusal. There is no other prospect of its arrival than through a third world war, whose aftermath would unquestionably be the birth of a world government to control international relations, leaving the separate peoples free to pursue their own policies in regard to internal ones. This is the only alternative path to peace, terrible though it be.
Meanwhile what is the duty of the spiritually awakened individual, as apart from the unawakened nations? Has the time come for him to practise a new approach? Does the old one of meeting violence with violence belong to the animal world? Then what is the new one which belongs to the human world? Must he cease to take life, withdraw from this course of endless slaughter, and seek protection from the higher powers by offering up even the will to live itself if needs be? The individual alone can test the truth and worth of this newer moral concept. For support of it offers no early likelihood of attaining sufficient strength as a political power. Philosophy can give no lead in the matter. The decision is a personal one. Each must decide for himself.
-- Notebooks Category 11: The Negatives > Chapter 3: Their Presence in The World > # 482