War is destructive and evil. War is the cause for thousands of deaths every day, it holds millions of people in a permanent state of fear and it has destroyed homes, friendships and minds. War is death, and nothing more. It is the worst of man’s creations, something that we should all be ashamed of, because we have created it and we have failed to put an end to it. War is mankind’s most gruesome invention, and nothing good can ever come from it.
So then why are soldiers and veterans worshipped like heroes?
Of course, it isn’t their fault. They did what any normal human being would do, because they had the courage to stand up and do what they were told, even though they didn’t like it. Courage is important, and refusing service is a cowardice move. That’s what we have all been taught ever since we were born, and therefore that is what we believe. We were told that soldiers are heroes, and therefore, it must be true.
Isn’t that just impressive? “Society” has actually managed to convince us that killing is good. Somehow, at some point in time, the ruling authority managed to convince its citizens that it is wrong to kill unless they themselves tell you to kill someone. Ending the life of a stranger on the street is considered murder, and in many countries you can be put to death for it, but killing hundreds of strangers in Iraq is not only just fine, but it is actually encouraged, as if it is some kind of altruistic act in which you purge the world of a little more evil. It is impressive leadership, but it is also incredibly frightening.
The truth is, of course, that there is no difference between the act of killing someone in Iraq and killing someone in your own neighbourhood. Both involve the loss of life, and no life is more important than another. After all, the only reason an American soldier kills an Iraqi soldier is because he happens to be born in a different situation, with a different culture and a different understanding, but the act remains the same: an innocent life is lost, the life of someone who was told by their leaders that the enemy is evil.
Just think of both the World Wars. These people can now live side by side, they can even be friends, while a few decades ago they wanted to kill each other, all because their government, or perhaps their society, had instructed them to do so. It shows how irrational war is, and how ridiculous it is that even in this day and age, every minute, two people are killed because of it. We have found cures to terrible diseases, we have set up charities whenever natural disasters occur, but we cannot stop murdering each other.
It is pathetic. For some strange reason, it is human nature to think that our own beliefs are superior, and when someone is different, that is a reason to kill them. We go marching into Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Egypt thinking that we know better. But we don’t. We want peace, so do they. We don’t want to kill anyone, neither do they. We kill them, so do they.
War has no purpose. It is just a perpetual cycle of murder that we all accept as if it is a necessary evil, as if we don’t cause it ourselves, as if some kind of natural law dictates that there must always be war, as if there is a God who would punish us if we don’t stop killing other people. But that is not how the world works. War isn’t necessary, and it can be avoided, if only we have the courage to stand up against it. If only we have the courage to say no, to refuse to pick up that gun and to refuse to end people’s lives. Going to war is not courageous. Saying no is.
I understand that this might raise some voices. Especially in the US, but also elsewhere, there is a tremendous amount of respect for soldiers, and these words will not be taken lightly by everyone. Still, I think it is important to say this. As long as we keep seeing soldiers as heroes, the young men and women of today will keep going to war looking for some kind of glory, and that isn’t good. What we need is a change in culture, a change in our mindset. We need to stop seeing war as a good thing and see it for what it truly is: a murderous atrocity.
Of course, the individual soldier is not to blame. They are victims, and we should do whatever we can to make their time after service as good as possible. However, as long as we keep glorifying their actions, more people will become soldiers, and that means even more victims.
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