As long as I can remember, there has been a war going on somewhere. I know because I’ve watched them all on television. It was the Korean war while I was very young, but after that … just a few years really … it was Vietnam and that was a big one and more personal. Many of the guys I knew in lived in fear of the draft. Nearly all were, in the end, drafted. Off they went to war.
Most of my friends came back, but many came back different. They remained different for all of their lives.
Since our war in Vietnam ended, there have been continuous wars. Rebellions. Genocide. Tribal slaughter. In Africa, Asia, Europe. With spillover elsewhere. Have I missed a continent? I’m pretty sure there haven’t been any wars at the poles. I think Australia and New Zealand skipped most of it, though they may have participated as allies of some other nation. You need a score card to keep track of who is fighting on which side.
My question is why? What’s the point? Assuming you “win,” what does that mean?
We were watching the latest out of Syria. I have no special love for Syria, but it’s hard to not be appalled by the devastation. Death, mutilation, destruction. To what end? What is left to win? Assuming victory is possible, by the time a victor emerges, there will be nothing remaining. Aleppo is scorched earth. Earth’s oldest city is rubble.
Why are they fighting? Because one group of people hates another group of people? Because one group is whiter or browner? A different tribe or religion? Or because they are the same religion, but one group doesn’t practice it fervently enough or practices too fervently — or just differently? All built on hatreds so old no one remembers when, why, or how they began. All we know is that they seem unlikely to ever end.
Each side points the finger at the other and they are right because everyone is guilty. Over the centuries and millennia, slaughters have been perpetrated by every player in the never-ending cycle of killing.
We watched a mini series for the past couple of nights. It was about the Spanish-American War, which my mother always referred to as “William Randolph Hearst’s war.” I’m pretty sure no one remembers what the war was about, if it was about anything except corporate greed and land grabbing. Yet, we celebrate it anyhow.
Even World War II — arguably a “just war” — was born of the hatred, resentment, and grudges created by the first World War, which itself was born of the ancient hatreds between European nations.
There will never be an end to it. We’ll just keep killing each other, handing out medals, extolling our heroes, and vilifying our enemies. There has to be another way.
I don’t expect to live to see it.