Monday, 28 July 2014

One Hundred Years

One hundred years ago today, a war began, a war which nobody thought would last all that long, a war which had no real purpose or intended outcome other than to show the demonstrable power of inept governments and the greedy, grabbing of those who sought to profit over the deaths of millions. It would become the war to end all wars in the propaganda of the day, the fight for King and country where young men marched off in an almost party-like atmosphere to become the dead heroes in the fields of Europe, east and west.

One hundred years ago today my grandfather, along with millions of other young men, was marched off into a battle that generals from the previous generation did not understand, where the political leaders thought in terms of empire and national destiny, where civilians died along with soldiers, all struggling to survive the bullets and bombs. Planes fell from the sky, artillery destroyed homes and houses, tanks crushed farms into mud. So many bullets and missiles were fired off by each side that even today, a hundred years later, they are still arising out of those many fields of battle.

One hundred years ago today, a war that began as an insignificant regional conflict escalated into a global bloodbath. It escalated because those who prosecute war could think of no other way to resolve their differences, because those who thought nothing of killing used men and women as shields and weapons to build their own power and glory, because the truth of this war and its real reason for escalation was hidden from the public who were instead fed stories and fables, lies and half-truths, so that they would become convinced of the need to kill their supposed enemies.

One hundred years ago today, a war began almost by accident, set in motion by plans frozen on paper and read by men too dimwitted to sense the ultimate outcomes, to set in their ways to see that there could be some other path, to determined that war was the only way.

I look around the world today and wonder how we could have learned so little, how we still allow our own greed and selfishness to drive us to commit horrible crimes, how we remain so easily swayed by lies and craftily designed tales to mislead. I look around the world today and shake my head in sadness, asking myself if belligerence and killing is perhaps the only thing mankind is really good at, asking myself if our true nature is to destroy and dominate. I look around and see such misery and ask myself what kind of world is it that after a hundred years still marches to the drum of death.

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