Sunday, 11 November 2018

QotD: 100 years ago today, the killing finally stopped. "Today is properly a day of mourning, for a world rent asunder by a stupid, useless waste of human life."

"War is not glorious. It achieves no great goals. It cures no diseases, it bridges no rivers, it builds no great cities, it does not launch people into space, clothe the naked, or feed the hungry. Those are worth celebrating, those sorts of achievements represent mankind at its best. War does quite the opposite thing — it destroys resources and people in bulk, and sets back human achievement, sometimes by years, sometimes by decades.
    "Nor is participation in war laudable. Sometimes it is necessary to defend oneself, but there is never any glory in it. Dying face down in the mud is tragic, not glorious, and World War I was almost nothing but one tragedy after another, over and over, multiplied by the millions.
    "So, today is properly a day of mourning -- for a world that was happily growing in population, accumulating capital, and engaging in peaceful trade which was, all of it, rent asunder by a stupid, useless waste of human life."

        ~ Perry Metzger, posting at Samizdata 



  1. That’s all true, but it’s a perspective that nobody really needs reminding of these days. The greater danger comes from the common belief that war needs to be avoided at all costs, and preparing for war in a peaceful country makes it more likely. It’s dangerous because it’s the opposite of the truth. If you want peace you must prepare for war - because there’ll always be someone in the world who wants to achieve their ends through violence.

    At my sons school last week, and every year they had an ‘International Day’ where they all dressed up in a different nations costumes and bring in food from that nation. The kids were then made to read passages written by others about ‘peace’, the general theme being that learning about other cultures creates peace (I’m not exaggerating). I suggested instead my son talk about the effect of the US dropping atom bombs on Japan had in creating peace.

    1. True indeed. All the world but one can agree on the value of peace, but if that one is not contained then all is lost.
      AA Milne's comment in the reprint of his superb paean to pacifism is apposite. The original was written after WWI; the reprint was in the 30s. In his introduction to the reprint he advised the reader, on every page to insert the words "...but Hitler."

    2. PS: We need a report back how your son's talk was received. :-)

    3. Unfortunately he wasn't given that opportunity. He expressed genuine confidence though that if he got into a debate with the school's head on the topic he would have won. I have no concerns about my own sons at all, but I do worry about the pervasive influence of this sort of crap on other kids who don't have the same parental influence. I'll add though that it's not something I've ever had to lecture them about overtly; it's come from their natural interest in WW2 and other wars, and talking about what would have likely happened if certain actions hadn't been taken.

      It's not a topic discussed at school, and they're not even allowed to draw any pictures of planes with guns on them. Ironically though, and perhaps somewhat because of it there's an underground of interest in war and guns amongst many of the school's boys. Seeing this is pretty convincing evidence for me that we're not all born tabula rasa, and there are inherent mental differences between males and females that can't all be attributed to nurture.


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