“Some talk of Alexander and some of Hercules
Of Hector and Lysander and such great names as these
But of all the world’s great heroes there’s none that can compare.
With a tow, row, row, row, row, row to the British Grenadiers”
We all have our heroes and heroines. Today we live in a world of Orwellian perpetual war. We can thank a higher power that war isn’t being fought in the streets of the UK and USA and we can look up and not see bombs raining down on us unlike the Palestinians, Libyans, Syrians, Afghani. Conflict reigns in 151 countries…
“It may make for bleak reading, but of the 162 countries covered by the Institute for Economics and Peace’s (IEP’s) latest study, just 11 were not involved in conflict of one kind or another.” The Independent, Thursday 14 August 2014
“Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history. At least 108 million people were killed in wars in the twentieth century.” Wikipedia
So what makes a “a British Grenadier” so special? Sorry I forgot. We are-the world-involved in a “war on Terror”. So that’s 162 out of 162.
How do we decide who is a hero or incomparable? The number of enemy soldiers they kill? The absence or presence of “collateral damage”? There are few things in life, very few, for which I would use the word hate but this term is one of them. Is a hero someone who saves the lives of his fellow soldiers? Civilians? If he saves the lives of his fellow soldiers does that mean there are more soldiers available to kill more enemy soldiers?
There are awards for bravery. Even in my world, one in which war is anathema, there are people who have impressed me with their courage in wartime. I am neither naive nor blinkered. Most of you over a certain age are familiar with Bob Dylan’s song “With God on our side.” If not, listen, it will change you.
Of course in war, truth is the first casualty. I will spare you more appalling euphemisms for killing, death and destruction. If you want to hear them check out the rantings of psychopaths like John Bolton, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.
It all gets very uncomfortable when you- save me from contemporary buzzwords but at least it isn’t about killing people- “drill down” into the criteria by which you would assess killers. When you watch army navy or air force recruiting videos I suspect off-limits is the reality that one day the training soldiers have been given will be used to kill somebody.
Wasn’t the First World War the war to end all wars? Not very successful was it, as 20 years later World War II kicks in. And we know war on t***** will never end. Te***rists are home-grown when they see the moral west killing family, friends and fellow citizens. Or they are trained in and funded by the USA or its allies.
Could you press a button that would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people? If it’s any consolation Theresa May has admitted she could.
Perhaps I’ll close with an acknowledgement to those who believe we are genetically disposed to violence and murder. We are prisoners of our genes and we are all off to hell in a hand cart. I, and millions like me must have faulty genes, which makes us a prime target for the eugenicists.
As many people have said there are no wars to end all wars. The only way to end a war is not to fight it in the first place. There are no “clean/surgical/regretfully necessary” mass murders.
Love is the only way to end wars. Peace is the only solution.
We are making progress.
Jack Stewart October 8, 2018.