War and Peace – Part 1: Romanticizing about war

jeanne-d_arc

In 19th century, going to war was a romantic idea and fantasy to many American men and also to the super powers of the world, Knowing what we know now (and still some of us are in denial or ignorance), war is hell on earth and it has to potential to destroy humanity to where it came to today. We CAN actually go back in time, as such we can undo the technological knowledge we attained so far, under the promise of a third world war.

The 20th century. Century of 2 world wars! To understand what led to them takes a bit of study and understanding late 19th century psychology. This is an era when men though “romantically” about going to war. World super powers were Britain, Spain and France, who has exploited the power they obtained by having the skills and technology to travel across continents and oceans, exercising their military powers over ‘weaker’ territories, lands with little to no arms. Colonizing more than half of the world under their own flag. This meant for any country who is looking to rise to the stage of world’s super powers, to have an army and navy that was strong enough to defend as well as obtain more land and resources. At simplest terms, growing as a country meant, growing your land. As a an individual, if you were a man, your ideal was be a warrior to go to war and to die for your country. If you were a woman, your ideal was to give birth to a boy and raise him to join the army. If you were not living up to these ideals, you were lazy and weak.

I particularly enjoyed understanding how public opinions came about. Understanding how big groups of people affect one another, in terms of how they perceive things or better said, which ‘lens’ they look through to evaluate facts and events around them. How social pressure is created. How ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of an era is created. It is hard to be mad at people who acted a certain way when you know everyone else around them acted similarly. People of late 19th century, grow up with stories of heroism and war hence they fantasized about being a hero, protecting, defending their own country. Governments of late 19th century, fantasized about growing larger, obtaining more power and land, colonizing other countries. They preached and promised the very same thing to the people who they were leading. Hence imperialism and nationalism were the two major movements of that time.

But as with every ‘movement’, like a force in nature, there is a counter force that will bring balance. Men who dreamed about war, generals boasted about their ideals to win, politicians/kings/dukes who fantasized about more land and power found their way into war… Like a water stream finds its way to the ocean.

What they found was nothing but sickening truth that war was piece of hell brought on earth! William Sherman,  an American army general during American Civil War, put it the best in my opinion: “I confess without shame that I am tired & sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. Even success, the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies […] It is only those who have not heard a shot, nor heard the shrills & groans of the wounded & lacerated (friend or foe) that cry aloud for more blood & more vengeance, more desolation & so help me God as a man & soldier I will not strike a foe who stands unarmed & submissive before me but will say ‘Go sin no more.’”

I love quotes. Most famous ones are ones where words that came together magically to describe a situation perfectly without the need to provide a context. Here are some that I think does the job for I want to convey here. I picked from generals who actually lead successful wars and one from one of mt favorite philosopher. Here they are:

Do not ever say that the desire to “do good” by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives. Ayn Rand.

Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived. Abraham Lincoln.

War creates peace like hate creates love. David L. Wilson

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity. Dwight D. Eisenhower

How far can you go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without? Dwight D. Eisenhower

In war, as it is waged now, with the enormous losses on both sides, both sides will lose. It is a form of mutual suicide. General Douglas MacArthur

 

 

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