Monday, 11 November 2013

I Hate War

I hate war. I hate its waste and wanton destruction. I hate the loss of lives, of futures, of potentials. I hate the callous cynicism with which old men cast away the lives of young men in causes truly known only by the few, those who hold and seek to continue to hold power. I hate the economic and social destruction wrought by the violent nature of mankind, by our willingness to destroy and be destroyed in the name of something we often know nought of.

We are a bellicose species. Since the beginning of mankind we have fought one another, one on one, in small groups, and in larger groups all the way up to global conflagration. We seem to need this conflict amongst us in spite of our ever present desire for peace. It is not all of us who seek to say "I love it. God help me I do love it so. I love it more than my life", as attributed to Patton in the dialog of the move of the same name. Many of us, me included, abhor it. My father once said to me that the most ardent pacifist is the soldier in a foxhole. Yet still we fight, still we take up arms and do battle.

War is good for business. In fact the US economy rises and falls on the spending of the US military. But in this spending lies its own destruction, for this economy steals from so many other things. Even great military leaders have had to deal with the costs of war. It was Dwight D. Eisenhower who said, some 60 years ago, after the end of the war in which he was Supreme Allied Commander, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. . . . This world in arms is not spending money alone; it is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. . . . This is not a way of life at all in any true sense."

George Techumseh Sherman, on his march to Atlanta said "War is hell". Yet fight he did, and in destruction, victory. Why do we glory the men of war and not the men of peace? Why do we hold days of memorial for those who died fighting and not for those who died as victims of the fight? Why do we not idolize those who serve without conflict, in a passion for peace. Where are their quotes? Where are their movies? Perhaps it is that we, as a species, love the fight, love the fighter, and place the victor on a pedestal.

There is no such thing as a good war, a just war. All war is bad, unjust, unfair. The best I can come up with is that war is inevitable. We just do it. So today, as I join the rest of Canada in Remembrance Day, I will remember not only my great-grandfathers, grandfathers, father, brothers, and nephew, all of whom have served in arms, I will also remember those whose first efforts were of peace. I will remember those who served, not just in war, but in the aid of mankind. I will remember Ghandi and Mother Teresa. I will remember Jesus and Buddha. I will remember Lech Walesa and Martin Luther King Jr. I will pray for peace, acknowledge war, and live in hope.

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