War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing

AT the outbreak of World War I, when patriotism was at its peak, “the war to end all war” was a common catchphrase.

British cabinet minister David Lloyd George, soon to become wartime Prime Minister, sensed the bitter irony in the statement.

“This war, like the next war,” he cynically remarked, “is another war to end all war.”

And the next war. And the ones after that. The War to End All War did little more than to perpetuate war.

A century after the start of World War I, which left 20 million dead, putting an end to global conflict is still a distant dream.

Can we ever hope for world peace? Armed conflict seems the way of the world, not something that belongs to the tragic past.

It is the most deadly plague in history.

In the book, What Every Person Should Know About War, Christopher Hedges writes that over the past 3400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or only 8 per cent of recorded history.

As long as there are nations rising against nations, world peace is improbable.

As Martin Luther King observed: “We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

Nearly all wars are due to the desperate grasping of an ideology, a fight for resources or for power.

The Dalai Lama was once asked how he thought we could best achieve world peace.

He said: “The best way to achieve world peace is, first, each of us must develop peace in our own hearts.”

It’s a simple but profound message.

Is there any righteousness between nations?

Probably not.

Not while men and women remain indifferent to the rights of others. It’s not hatred that is the opposite of love. It’s indifference.

And indifference can do more harm than outright hatred.

There’s no point in trying to change the world unless we can make personal changes in ourselves.

Gandhi said: “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the ‘atomic age’ – as in being able to remake ourselves.”

In a Christmas sermon in the midst of the Vietnam War in 1967, Martin Luther King said: “If we don’t have good will toward men in this world, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own instruments and our own power.

“If we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men, we must have the non-violent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. Every man is somebody because he is a child of God. And so when we say, ‘Thou shalt not kill’, we’re really saying that human life is too sacred to be taken on the battlefields of the world.

“Man is more than a tiny vagary of whirling electrons or a wisp of smoke from a limitless smouldering. Man is a child of God, made in His image, and therefore must be respected as such.

“Until men see this everywhere, until nations see this everywhere, we will be fighting wars.”

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24 thoughts on “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing

  1. I took part in a formal debate about fifty years ago (!!bloody hell!), and used exactly those figures! —>
    “In the book, What Every Person Should Know About War, Christopher Hedges writes that over the past 3400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or only 8 per cent of recorded history.”

    ,….and the response was:- Nothing’s perfect. (The implication being that 92% wasn’t a bad effort.)

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  2. If that were true:- “Man is a child of God, made in His image, and therefore must be respected as such.”
    ….it’d be the sort of god only a psychopath would want to be associated with.
    And it might in fact be so; in the same breath as he said ‘Thou shalt not kill’ he sent the jews off to butcher every member of the tribes of Canaan, sparing not even children or animals, “without mercy”.

    He makes Mark Read look like a gentle prankster.
    You can’t choose to follow god and seek peace, justice or mercy at the same time.

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    • The Old Testament is men’s understanding of God, men seeing God from their perspective, men placing limitations on God, men thinking that God is like men, i.e. angry, punitive, and unforgiving. It is there to test us, it is something men have to overcome.

      Then Jesus came and show you the true God, a God of unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness. Jesus came to replace the “an eye for an eye” mentality with unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness, moral right/wrong with the law of sowing and reaping.

      If you just focus on the Old Testament, you will never know Truth.

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      • According to the Old Testament, the Canaanites and other tribes in the land widely practiced child sacrifice, incest, bestiality, and other behaviors that almost everyone in history, including today, rightly regard as unspeakably, grossly immoral

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      • I’ve always liked the principles of christianity, Carmel. But when human fantasy and desire and ego and power-motive is overlaid over the ‘Jesus principle’ they tend to corrupt and undermine it.

        The claim that ” the true God, a God of unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness. Jesus came to replace the “an eye for an eye” mentality with unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness,” is a good example of that.

        There IS no such thing as a free lunch; and if one is to ‘follow’ the christian concept then rules (conditions) apply…..The foremost of which is that you MUST ‘believe’ ~ including the divinity of the man (a clear contradiction in terms) and all the other nonsense both stated and implied.
        ….and you have to overlook the indisputable bullshit ~ such as people being able to walk on water or ‘move mountains by faith alone’.

        In fact, the whole idea of ‘morality’ and reward for effort (“moral right/wrong with the law of sowing and reaping.” ) confirms the nonsensicality of ‘unconditional’, as does ~ absolutely ~ the idea of ‘judgment day’.

        I agree, though, that the god of the OT is an unforgiving, evil bastard with which nobody with a shred of morality or compassion would want to be associated : and I’ve often said (here and elsewhere) that the worst disservice ever done to the christian ideal is to link it to the jewish god.

        Unfortunately, now, christianity has been made DEPENDENT on that relationship, and thus renders it non-viable as read. The very suggestion that a god can get it wrong or change his mind shoots down any idea of ‘godliness’

        The only good news is that no other living creature has ever found a need for a god, and in general terms they live according to christian ideals.
        Hopefully our species will one day revert to what we used to be and used to ‘know’.
        Your dog will give you real ‘unconditional love’ without even knowing what it is. And not a single animal I’ve ever heard of indulges in ‘an eye for an eye’.

        ,,,,,,( Not even jewish dogs. Probably not allowed into a synogogue, nor ever read Exodus 24! 😉 )

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      • I believe Jehovah was a representation of the psyche of the people. Not all of that society were so brutal of course, and their compassion etc. is reflected in the ‘better’ laws introduced in the OT.

        There is the seventh day rest weekly for your workers as well as your self.

        Plus seven annual High Sabbaths, biblical rest days not necessarily occurring on the weekly Sabbath (Lev. 23).

        Plus a year of rest for land every seven years. The poor may gather off your land. The land is left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity, including plowing, planting, pruning and harvesting, is forbidden. Watering, fertilizing, weeding, spraying, trimming and mowing permitted. Additionally, any fruits which grow of their own accord are deemed hefker (ownerless) and may be picked by anyone.

        Plus “At the end of every seven years, you shall celebrate the remission year. The idea of the remission year is that every creditor shall remit any debt owed by his neighbor and brother when God’s remission year comes around. You may collect from the alien, but if you have any claim against your brother for a debt, you must relinquish it….” (Deuteronomy 15:1-6)

        Plus “At the end of seven years ye shall let go every man his brother that is a Hebrew, that hath been sold unto thee, and hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee”; but your fathers hearkened not unto Me, neither inclined their ear.” (Jeremiah 34:13-14)

        Even an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, was a restraint on killing your attacker for knocking your tooth out, or even blinding your eye. You could only retaliate in kind.

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      • Yeah, I’ve read that interpretation, Strewth, but can find no biblical edict to support it.
        And since all are supposed to be equal before the law, how can one take a took from a toothless man, or an eye from a blind man; or even accidental death. (Saw Ben Hur again a few days ago.)

        In any case it’s an entirely different concept from turning the other cheek.
        The question then becomes:- can ant real god have gotten it so wrong in the first place?

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      • I guess Dabs that’s why Jesus had followers of his concept of God, leaving behind the concept that Moses presented.

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      • Hm Mike,
        yes, – those OT accounts about the evils engaged in by those pesky Canaanites.— Quite frankly I dont really trust much in the Biblical accounts that describe the motives for the evil things they were being killed for. Recall how truth is the first thing to die in war times.

        I’m reminded of the triggers that started off the Desert Storm invasion of Iraq, In particular there was that obscenely choreographed occasion when (if I recall properly) our American allies had a little child come out all well primed to describe just what evil so and sos are in Iraq. What was it she said? If I recall correctly, she told the assembly that the soldiers and others of the local community were breaking into hospitals and tearing out the babies from their humi-cribs, etc. I cant feel any great confidence in the things that were reported in the Biblical texts; Of course the Israelites were well and truly brainwashed, to encourage them to go to war. (that is, if it REALY happened!)

        Rian.

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      • Strewth,
        Your explanation for “an eye for an eye” is exactly what happens when people ignore God’s instructions on a matter and put their own interpretation on it.

        Exodus 21:25-27 was given in the context of personal injury compensation, not retaliation. An eye for an eye meant that a slave could obtain his manumission as compensation for loss of an eye.

        Leviticus 24:19,20 where the phrase next occurs, might sound like a defence for retaliation and vendetta, until you read the whole passage. Starting at verse 10 and finishing at verse 23. You will soon realise that it was written in the context of the law being applied equally for everyone (the blasphemer whether he be a Jew or Gentile) and with the same severity ie. you take an eye for an eye, not a head for an eye, etc. it was not to be done in the context that the Mafia does it, where they go out on vendetta without invoking due process first.

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      • Frankly Rian,
        You are the one guilty of sacrificing the truth in the name of your philosophy.
        The truth in this case is that:
        – God also exterminated ten of Israel’s original tribes because they followed the same practices that the Caananites did. Whilst the inhabitants of Judah went into captivity for 70 years because of idolatrous practices they should have eliminated from their midst. This proves that God does not show favouritism. Why is it that atheists and people like yourselves point out the slaughter of the Canaanites but fail to mention that the Israelites copped it as well?
        – There is a body of archaeological evidence which indicates that the surrounding nations engaged in the practices that Moses legislated against. The accounts are often so explicit that either Bryan, or my employer would censor them, were I to attempt to post them. So your proof for your unbelief hides behind the fact that a lot of evidence can’t be published on web sites that can be accessed by minors, because of its explicit nature.

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      • ah davinci,

        thanks for the interesting post there, in which you set out to dissect my little discussion of the Canaanites and the way they are depicted within the Jewish Scriptures.

        I am still reeling somewhat at the suggestions you gave there about any frank description of the sins of those peoples. Now, I can well imagine that a truthful coverage with ALL the nasty details might be somewhat unsuitable for such forums as this one. All the same though, In imagining just what sort of sins they were committing, I can see no problem with blanket summary words being aired. So presumably they include murder, infant sacrifice, terrible tortures, cannibalism and female mutilation etc. Do you actually know about practices that were engaged in, which are still worse than these? Rather doubt it!

        I have read many times about the brazen statue of the god Moloch in which infants were supposed to have been horribly burned to death. I also read that a lot of those same beliefs may well have been exaggerated by the ancients who did their darnedest to whitewash themselves and to demonize the Canaanites in typical fashion. Some few years back, I am sure I saw on TV the results of archaelogical digs and uncovering evidence that contradicted that age old claim about the evils of the times. Then I recall that the Nazis condemned Jews as being the most horrible and dangerous humans on God’s earth, and did their best to exterminate them.

        And then there was the claim that on certain of the asylum boats, approaching the fair land of Oz, some of these simply terrible individuals were tossing the children they had with them, into the sea. It was a group of Christian Parliamentarians who just guaranteed the accusation. If our Christian seniors can come up with such nonsense, then I’m not surprised to discover that the ancient Israelites tried to blacken their opponents in similar fashion.

        I recall too, how the Roman authorities during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, depicted the upstart Christians in the empire, as practicing all sorts of horrible and filthy rites during their Eucharistic love feasts, of all things!.

        I shall continue in a second posting here on my further thoughts.
        Rian..

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      • ah davinci,

        thanks for the interesting post there, in which you set out to critique my discussion of the Canaanites and the way they are depicted within the Jewish Scriptures.

        I am still reeling somewhat at the suggestions you gave there about any frank description of the sins of those peoples. Now, I can well imagine that a truthful coverage with ALL the nasty details might be somewhat unsuitable for such forums as this one. All the same though, In imagining just what sort of sins they were committing, I can see no problem with blanket summary words being aired. So presumably they include murder, infant sacrifice, terrible tortures, cannibalism and female mutilation etc. Do you actually know about practices that were engaged in, which are still worse than these? Rather doubt it!

        I have read many times about the brazen statue of the god Moloch in which infants were supposed to have been horribly burned to death. I also read that a lot of those same beliefs may well have been exaggerated by the ancients who did their darnedest to whitewash themselves and to demonize the Canaanites in typical fashion. Some few years back, I am sure I saw on TV the results of archaelogical digs and uncovering evidence that contradicted that age old claim about the evils of the times. Then I recall that the Nazis condemned Jews as being the most horrible and dangerous humans on God’s earth, and did their best to exterminate them.

        And then there was the claim that on certain of the asylum boats, approaching the fair land of Oz, some of these simply terrible individuals were tossing the children they had with them, into the sea. It was a group of Christian Parliamentarians who just guaranteed the accusation. If our Christian seniors can come up with such nonsense, then I’m not surprised to discover that the ancient Israelites tried to blacken their opponents in similar fashion.

        I recall too, how the Roman authorities during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, depicted the upstart Christians in the empire, as practicing all sorts of horrible and filthy rites during their Eucharistic love feasts, of all things!.

        I shall continue in a second posting here on my further thoughts.
        Rian..

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      • So Rian,

        Did you ever read the Scriptures relating to the Israeliltes coupling with the Midianite women, on the borders of Canaan? Did you read the part where the Israelites copped it first in terms of disease and punishments by God?

        Did you read the part of the Scriptures dealing with the golden calf at Sinai? Did you notice that the Israelites were in danger of being obliterated by God for their sin? Did you notice that it was Moses who interceded for them? Did you notice that eventually it was the Israelites that were slaughtered for the worship of the golden calf?

        So it wasn’t propaganda in favour of the Israelites after all! This is where your claim falls down.

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  3. Each ANZAC Day I believe more and more people are attending ceremonies, remembering the sacrifices of our servicemen and women. I am caught in a bind. I remember my father who was an ANZAC, also fought at Flanders, copped some gas. He refused to be part of commemoration ceremonies.

    Now I see a difference between such ceremonies then, and today’s. The earlier ones were about honouring those who fought for ‘us’. Today’s are more about mourning for their unnecessary sacrifice. I am generalising, I think, there were and are people in both camps.

    I feel a need to stand with my Dad, and perhaps now I can do that in attending the ceremonies? But perhaps not -I feel unsure.

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    • There’re many a reason to kill. Virtually every creature does it, Strewth; but never a reason for ‘war’; we’re the only creature which does that.
      Perhaps it’s because the other animals have no concept of ‘God and Country’

      ‘Australia’s’ foray into Gallipoli was an unmitigated, murderous ‘home-invasion’ on a massive scale and nothing more.

      Umpteen brainless gung-ho juveniles ~ hyped up on testosterone as such as they are ~ were armed to the teeth and sent half-way around the world with the sole intent of slaughtering complete strangers minding their own business in their own towns and bedrooms.

      …..and all on the strength of being told to do so by politicians you wouldn’t trust with the care and protection of even a dead cockroach.

      Your father was probably as stupid and easily-led as the rest of them, but at least appears to have had the decency to refrain from trying to justify the murderous bastardry with rowdy marches, patriotic wreath-laying and pompous prose, along with all the other bullshit, when he finally realised which end was up.

      Good on him for that. Trust your father’s lead.

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    • oh come on davinci,

      Those tales I learnt 60 odd years back in my youth. I simply find them rather interesting folktales.. Of course they are clearly intended to frighten the Israelites into submission, as well as to justify the nation’s grab for land. Yep, how convenient. God told them to do it!

      Just typical folk tales. There is simply no way to verify them. You will be telling me next that Adam and Eve were historically real people, along with a talking reptile and fancy magical fruit in a beautiful garden.

      Isn’t it just too obvious that this sort of thing always happened long ago and far away? Very convenient! Yes davinci, I had a very extensive Bible education in my early days. Before I could read, I used to love pouring over the 2000 odd engravings in the huge family Bible that, I must add, I still possess, and enjoy pouring over.

      Rian

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  4. What is war good for? Like natural disasters, it draws us together in compassion. We learn the unimportance of many things, but once it’s all in the past, we quickly unlearn!

    School analogy again, we need lessons to learn things we had not envisaged, and sometimes they are very hard.

    “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” appears to be a quote from Ian Maclaren, a Scottish clergyman. It is a quotation now widely misattributed to Plato or Philo of Alexandria. The oldest known instance of this quotation is in the 1897 Christmas edition of The British Weekly: “Be pitiful, for every man is fighting a hard battle.”

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  5. Jesus’s call for us to love our enemies is possibly one of his hardest words – and yet if we do not walk towards that goal we will indeed have to live in a world without peace.

    Challenging stuff.

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  6. I was reading the triggers to World War 1. Lives are treated like disposable chess pieces. I believe if the decision makers were forced to serve in the front line we would have less wars.

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    • Maybe. If god had had any actual omniscience he’d have made testosterone a component of brains.
      Then they might turn their weapons on those who point them to the killing fields.

      aside:- My number came up for the Vietnam ballot, and I wrote a letter to the powers-that-be to the effect that I wanted to volunteer. (To get out of gaol.)
      (Not yet being a confirmed anarchist I wanted them to send me over there and intended to desert and fight for the other side; the VC had The Right on their side.)

      Anyway, I got a reply that said, in effect, that they were only taking conscriptees, and that anyone who would volunteer was too dangerously stupid to be in their army.

      My brother, who was a highly-trained regular also volunteered to go ~ would’ve tripled his pay and put him higher up the rank for promotion.
      They rejected him on the grounds that they weren’t about to risk a couple of million dollars invested in him where the bullets were flying.

      Sort of defines the rationality of ‘war’ doesn’t it?

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    • Yes Dom, but didn’t Mohammed serve in the front lines when he came back to Mecca with his warriors?
      And didn’t Bayazid (The Thunderbolt) serve in the front lines when he went to war against Tamerlane?
      Didn’t Mehmet the First serve in the front lines when he captured Constantinople in 1453? At Belgrade? In Wallachia?

      And on the Western side; wasn’t Richard the Lionheart serving in the front lines in the Outremer? Wasn’t Julius Caesar, Pompey, Trajan, etc politicians and generals? Wasn’t Gaius Marius, Sulla, Scipio Africanus both politicians and generals as well?

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