It seems to me, you cannot appease an aggressor, appeasement only exacerbates aggression. This fact is true in every facet of life, both personal and political, micro and macro. Those who would take from us have already dehumanized us in their minds, and nothing we can do will change that, short of defeating them. In fact, trying to befriend someone who has dehumanized you only proves to the aggressor you are not as valuable as he, nor is your opinion as meaningful as his. This is a fundamental fact of aggression. We are all faced with aggressors in our lives. Those of us that placidly back off and cede ground worsen the aggression, those of us that try to make friends with those who seek to take from us, only prove to the aggressor we are unworthy to have whatever they want. The only two ways to stop an aggressor is to defeat him or her decisively, and that only works as long as you have the plurality of power, or leave the situation entirely.
Taking a person’s stuff is bad, but taking a person’s children, or humanity is far worse. Stuff can be replaced, rebuilt or simply done without, but our children and our humanity are fundamental to our person hood. Taking a person’s humanity can come in various ways, slavery is one way, forcing someone to believe something they do not is another… there are many ways to take someone’s humanity, all of them evil. Taking someone’s property is a lesser evil but evil none the less. If an aggressor gets away with taking the property of someone, that aggressor is motivated to do it again, to someone else. The cycle continues until the aggressor is dead or someone stands up to them.
Once someone has dehumanized another in their mind there is nothing the victim can do to change the mind of the aggressor. No amount of nice words, kind actions, charity or platitudes will convince an aggressor of the humanity of his intended victim. In fact they will only prove the unworthiness of the victim. Once someone has dehumanized another they must keep believing that, else in their own mind, they are bad. None of us wants to think we ourselves are evil, and so we continue doing things we should recognize are bad… to keep up the fiction in our own minds that we ourselves are not bad. The more someone tries to change our minds, the more resistant we become to change, again, because to change our minds will prove we were wrong in the first place and that is simply not acceptable. It is called cognitive dissonance.
When asked by a Roman why he was besieging an Etruscan city the Gaul king said, ‘Natural law, that the strong should take from the weak so the strong may live on…’ We are masters of rationalizing our actions, wants and needs. The aggressor never sees him or herself as bad, they manipulate in their own minds the facts, to show that they deserve to enslave that other, steal from him, or rape her, etc… even the most violent people often believe they are the victims. Their violence is merely the actions of the aggrieved. The aggressor often claims, (believes), he or she is the victim. This helps justify their actions at least in their own minds. Society often feeds into this false meme. When someone who has a violent past beats up someone, people shake their heads and say, “he’s at it again.” But when the victim kills an aggressor the same people who would have merely shook their heads at the violence, now become enraged and ask, “Couldn’t you have just run away?” We unknowingly feed the victim belief of those who are evil in this way.
If we want to live in a civilized world we have to start acting civilized. Ignoring aggression by others against others is not civilized it is why bullies get away with bullying. All it takes for evil to get a foothold is for good people to turn a blind eye, and we do that more often than not. When aggression is directed at us we must stand and fight. To back down is not civilized it is barbaric, because it empowers the aggressor to misuse others in the future who, if they back down too, will prove to the aggressor the rightness of his or her actions. Mere thieves must be punished, but those who would dehumanize others must be stepped on, as examples to everyone that aggression is not acceptable in a civilized world. Moreover, allowing the aggressor to play the victim only empowers the aggressor, and dis-empowers the victim. We can stop promoting aggression in our world and thereby live on a civilized planet, or we can keep placating aggressors, and eventually all of us will become victims and the entire world will descend into barbarism. The choice is ours, as it always is, the choice is not easy, it never is, but it is still ours to make, it is the price we pay for free will…