Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The War to End All Wars

I admit as lifelong pacifist and a long time anti-war blogger, I have a little trouble "celebrating" Veterans Day. Especially in the US, we seem to focus more on the killing instead of on peace. Most countries in contrast celebrate the moment as Armistice Day, when hostilities ended in the war that was supposed to end all wars. As Matt Yglesias notes today, in these contentious times it's other countries that seem to better recognize "What was needed from the political leadership of the time was a way to avoid the war, not a way to win it."

Our present day leaders don't seem to get that at all and Americans don't have the same emotional investment in today's conflicts. I think that's because "war" today isn't so clearly defined, the media coverage is santized and no one sees a moment when we can say this war is over. Steve Hynd posts on this theme today too and finds a quote from Kurt Vonnegut that captures the public mood of those times that are missing today.
When I was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month. [...]

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one and another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Sadly, it seems the lesson has been forever lost and only the dead truly rest in peace.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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