Does Anyone Believe In War?

Field by Brandenberg, Germany. Image by Peter Dargatz — Pixabay

Today’s Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day — Veteran’s Day in the USA. This is the day we remember the ones who paid the price for freedom, to respect the sacrifice they’ve made in the cause of peace and liberty. So we have all heard it for so many years and I think most of us would nod in agreement: we see Remembrance Day this way.

Someone commented recently that to her understanding, wearing a poppy indicates that the wearer believes in, or supports, war. For me. it’s more like an anti-war symbol. “Please, world leaders, remember the terrible cost of war and rather find peaceful solutions to international conflicts.”

What does the Remembrance Day poppy mean to you?

This morning I started wondering, Is there any sane person who actually believes that war is a good thing?

I was a teen in the ’60s — and for us here in North America the news was full of the Nam war. President Kennedy committing the US to involvement in Vietnam, Johnson escalating the war effort, the hawks, the doves, peace marches, draft card burning, etc. And for those of us here in Canada, hearing about draft dodgers slipping in, seeking refuge. The justification may have been: “We need to stop the spread of communism.” However, no one on this side was happy about US troops dying in Nam.

My parents and their peers lived through the 1930s and watched anxiously as Hitler shook hands with Mussolini and divided up Europe. German troops invaded Austria and the Rhine Valley. I remember the Beatles in the 60s singing “Give Peace a Chance.” Neville Chamberlain gave peace a chance, waving his non-aggression treaty as he descended the plane in England after his successful trip to Germany. “It’s here in black and white, folks. The Fuhrer has agreed to stop invading now.” When Poland, the Benelux countries, and finally France fell under Nazi control, that generation knew that only a war would stop Hitler. No one wanted it, though.

Fact is, almost everyone is willing to give peace a chance. A dozen chances, if it meas avoiding war, destruction. bloodshed, more “Flanders fields where poppies blow between the crosses row on row….” These things we’re supposed to remember and grieve today.

I suspect most religious fanatics would rather have people convert to their cause than start a war. Insane people also would probably avoid outright war if possible. I’m sure Hitler would have been delighted if countries had just handed their governments over to him without the loss of German lives. However, he had the expectation that there’d be armed resistance and he was prepared to take by force whatever wasn’t handed over peaceably.

For a wannabe world ruler like Napoleon or Hitler, or an ideologist like Lenin bent on overthrowing the powers that be, violence and outright war are a necessary evil to getting what they want. “If other people weren’t so stupid and stubborn, they’d just give in and let me/us rule them, rob them blind, and/or exterminate them without all this fuss.” Crispina Kemp on her blog recent wrote about William the Norman Prince of Orange invading England. Same deal.

In my parents’ generation few people in Britain or on this side of the ocean wanted war, but they saw it as the only solution to stopping an insane man from ruling the world. I believe that whether they were right in the actions they took or whether they weren’t is for God alone to judge. And I’m not up enough in History to know why Europe and England felt they needed to get involved when The Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo. I have read about the bloody trench warfare and mass destruction of World War I.

Today I’d like to say with the rest of the world, “Please God, never again!” But I suspect humanity may produce a few more wannabe dictators and fanatics. While I don’t “believe in” or support the idea of war, I realize that in the kingdoms of this old world, it’s sometimes unavoidable.