War; what is it good for?

When I was young and ignorant, I thought the Great War sounded just that, great.

Those hummable songs about packing up your troubles, the camaraderie, the poetry.

The uniforms.

The allure of a common goal, being part of the team.

Especially, of course, on the winning side.

The romantic notion, but for real: I'd die for that; it's to die for.

We're so way too comfy in our modern lives to understand an iota of that.

It's like that Indigo Girls line: ''there must be a thousand things you would die for, I can hardly think of two.''

King, Country, Battalion, Company, friends down the line, family back home.

And that's before the personal grievances and discomfort began.

Our given history paints the two world wars as definitive markers - in-betweeners are the ''interwar years''.

Like peacetime is the unusual thing.

And conflict, of course, stretches back many millennia more.

Ever since possessions and territories have been defined, they've been fought over and over for.

Are we humans innately violent, then, that we look to warring solutions and mark our time this way?

Or something we have learned?

And who and how does that serve?

In Stone Age times, our great-great-great-great-great-great (add a few greats) -grandparents had a 10%-20% chance of meeting a somewhat violent death.

On average, it would be 1%-2% these days.

Which might give you hope for humanity, if it weren't for the constant rhetoric of war.

War on Terror, War on Drugs.

War is news.

War is now.

Warring again on desert soil, even as we commemorate 100 years since that not so great, nation-shaping conflict.

Lest we ever forget.

So we're safer, yes, and better informed.

With action footage on the internet, war has never been so up close and personal.

And yet so removed.

Screens will do that to you.

And that clever, safer, sharper fighting, analysing technology takes us further away again from what being human to another human means.

Seeing past the shiny buttons now, I don't understand how war can bring anything but more conflict.

War serves its own machine.

I mean, if I want to put out a fire, I don't use more fire.

I need water.

And if I want to paint a black canvas, why would I start by applying white paint?

It's like Lou Reed said, ''You're going to reap just what you sow''.

Or that old Cherokee granddad's proverb of our warring nature: the two wolves inside us.

One is evil, anger, greed.

The other, goodness, hope, love.

Which wolf, asks his grandson, wins?

Of course, it is the one you feed.

Those granddads.

And grandmas.

They have so much we can learn from, so many stories without words to share.

Would mine, who fought and survived, be disappointed in a world where their grandson and his friends were still in uniform, still marching for the war machine?

My grandmother wrote this of her frontline service: ''And now that people are celebrating this anniversary ... I think to myself, was it really worth it, to pay such a price? And what for? What for? For we didn't gain anything substantial, nothing real, absolutely nothing.''

The late Jonathan Larson wrote that ''The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation''.

If we can learn to destroy, so we can learn to create.

And for that creation to happen, perhaps we need to sow the great and not so great stories from both, from all sides.

From granny, from Cherokee, from girl groups, from musical theatre, from Reserve Officers turned cult singers, from us all.

To remind ourselves that we are people.

With people.

Lest we ever forget.

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