Thursday, October 28, 2004

Wondering about War

Why does the human race appear to love war so much? I know it's not everyone, it's just the louder (minority?) portion of humanity, but still...
There are books writing for and against it. There are movies about the bravery of war or the high cost of war or the adventure of war. There are war hawks and war planes and war tanks and war games. Maybe that's part of the problem. Maybe it's because war is glossed over, and the people who fight in wars are idolized by their countries. Many computer games deal with war (Age of Empires, Rise of Nations, Civilization, Fighter Jet Flight Simulators), as do board games (RISK, Broadsides) and tabletop games (Warhammer). If war is treated as a game, is there any wonder we keep getting drawn into them?
And then look at the movie industry. We have War Games, Star Wars, Saving Private Ryan, The Hunt for Red October, All Quiet on the Eastern Front, The Mouse that Roared, The Scarlet and the Black -- all very good movies, yet centrallized around the machinery of war. Thankfully most of these show the dark sides of war, but not all. The Mouse that Roared (one of my favorite movies, by the way) is a comedy where a small country, The Dutchy of Grand Fenwick, goes to war against the United States (and wins, by accident -- that wasn't in the plan) in an attempt to save their economy.
We have so much literature and so many films about war, and while I know some of them are trying to show the dark sides of war isn't it a little desensitizing? If you can stand Saving Private Ryan, with pieces of people flying everywhere at some points, doesn't that desensitize you to the true horror of war? It may hit you at first, but after awhile it's just like, "Oh, here comes another flying leg." Is that what we want?
Maybe that's why we get stuck in situations like this. Maybe that's why we end up going to war over stupid things. I have no objections to World War II -- we should have joined sooner, it would have saved more lives -- except for the fact that the situation ever had to occur at all. Once the situations line up right and the spark is lit, it is important to stand for what you believe in and defend what you hold to be true. But defend! The best defense may be a good offense, but let the bad guys attack first and be prepared for when they do. After they pick the fight, then jump in and finish it off quickly. If you can't finish it off quickly, then maybe focusing solely on defense is the best solution.
We are too greedy, and too naive, and too blinded by the poison the media keeps trying to feed us. Stand up! Live! Try to understand the other person!
Instead, we end up like the mockery of the army:

Join the army, see the world, meet interesting people and shoot them



Blogger Brendan said...

Several notions (great post BTW):

1. War is morally neutral at its fundamental root. As awful as its immediate results are by nature, most people have to admit that it can be waged righteously and for the right reasons, as the last and only measure of redressing human wrong. The apparently irradicable root issue is the human capacity for evil; that, I have no thoughts on, because it is not a well I care to peer too deeply into at the moment. If there's a thought here, it's the obvious one that war ought to be the last tool in the bag.

2. Psychologists have a whole bunch of words and phrases and notions which cover a basic idea- that a human being seeks to find fulfilment of him or herself as they see their proper end to be. For some people, the only way they can see the proper fulfilment of their nature is in war- to prove their bravery, their manliness, their ability to defend their home. I am picturing Donald Rumsfeld, but any number of people would fit this idea- common, average people. There's an obvious side-issue here into gender role theory, but that's not my line.

3. I'm playing a violent videogame at the moment, based on ancient war. It is difficult for me to say I've been desensitized to war, however, because that would by nature imply I was sensitized in the first place. I don't feel this game damages my basic compassion for humanity, but at the same time, having never experienced war, how could I say either way whether or not I would be desensitized to that?

Anyway, very thoguht provoking. Thanks.

10:18 PM  

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