August 29, 2009

War, and Why It Seems Like a Stupid Idea


It happens all of the time. It's always happened all of the time. Thousands of years ago the earliest civilizations were at war. Probably millions of years ago the amoebas were at war, too. That's just how it is.

But why? Why is war such an integral part of our existence?

I guess we as humans, or just as living beings, are naturally proud and a bit aggressive. We're territorial creatures and we get defensive- or more likely offensive- very easily. You won't give me this toy? Okay, let's fight. You took my favorite blanket? Let's go, right now. You did this, you did that... you won't give me enough oil to run my country, you ruined my people with your capitalist or communist ideas... let's have another war!

The thing about war, though,  is that generally the people who start them aren't the ones out there getting their heads blown off. It's easy for governments and leaders to start wars now and rationalize them later. It's "for the greater good of this great country" or "to uphold this great country's reputation" or even "to improve this great world." I love that last one. How can killing thousands of people make the world a better place?

But regardless of how stupid or acceptable the rationalizations are, the fact remains that the people in charge aren't on the front lines. And that makes a twisted kind of sense, seeing as the great strategists and generals can't get killed in the beginning, or- oh horror!- we wouldn't have a war at all. And then where would we be?

I realize that there are some things that just can't be accepted and forgiven. Like assassination, or stealing half a country, or lacking to pay a few million dollars (that one's a pretty common reason, too). Something has to be done about these things. It's just, I don't know, can't we do something other than kill all of the people we were fighting to protect in the first place?

Because that's what wars are supposedly about, right? Fighting to protect the people. Fighting for peace. We've all heard that one before... And somehow the general public accepts that. Yeah, I understand that we had to stop Hitler, obviously, and that someone's got to stand up to the bad guys. But looking at the death tolls...

In all sincerity, looking at the death tolls, tears come to my eyes-- in sorrow for the dead and in sorrow for the sheer stupidity that is war.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:18 AM

    How exactly does one derive the notion of the sanctity of human life?