In his recent article, entitled "Is America copying Israel’s mistakes?", published on the 25th of October in the International Herald Tribune, William Pfaff writes: "The power of the weak lies in a people’s acceptance of suffering. The weakness of the strong is that a disproportionate use of force against the weak eventually corrupts their own society." Though I wholly agree with his second statement, I cannot help but question the extent of the correctness of his first sentence. I ask myself: is the strength of the weak really in accepting their state of suffering? How can that possibly be so?
It is true that only when you truly realize your state, are you able to build on it for improvement. That sort of acceptance is commendable. However, sometimes acceptance of suffering leads to despair, so much so that people start believing that maybe they deserve it (for no plausible reason) or are destined to live in it. At that point, the attitude starts becoming one of hopelessness and even indifference; one of ‘forget doing anything about it because we can’t really, or it just won’t make a difference’. That is where the problem lies. That is the weakness of the weak.
What the weak need to do is not to accept their suffering; that is exactly what the strong wish for. They cannot let that happen. Instead, they must ask: why are we suffering? Why should we have to suffer? Do we really want to stay like this all our lives? How can we put an end to this crisis? With the answers to these in mind, the weak must then direct their energies towards enacting them.
To accept suffering is to accept defeat. The weak cannot afford that. Does it make any sense to simply stand by and willingly offer weak bodies to the strong to attack? That is not the work of a pacifist; it is merely of a naive person. The weak must not mistake themselves into thinking that self-defense is a crime because it is not, no matter what the world has to say, for, remember, it is but the strong who mostly hold resonance with the world.
Never should the state of this world sink to such a low level that anyone would be expected to accept his suffering. And never should the weak be told that their power lies in that.
William Pfaff’s brilliant article contains important lessons for the strong, but his advice for the weak is inappropriate, for the power of the weak lies not in acceptance of their suffering, but in its prevention and resistance against it. That should be the message to the weak as well as the strong of the world.
Suffering is something no one should ever have to live through – the weak or the strong. All the same, demanding justice is essential and so is applying it. The power of the weak lies in respecting these principles.