“War begets poverty, poverty peace. Peace begets plenty, then riches increase; riches bring pride and pride is war’s ground. War begets poverty and so we go round.”
Many readers will note my “modernization” of the ancient classic for easier reading but with no change to the truth and meaning. The cycle seems endless, man’s inhumanity to man an unbreakable chain. But still we gather after tragedies to place flowers, light candles, whisper or shout prayers to a God, by whatever name, who doesn’t appear to listen – or maybe questions the sincerity of our tears.
It is a fact that even as the masses light their candles and place their flowers in jumbled heaps with heartfelt messages the victims they mourn can no longer read, their leaders talk of war and revenge – and with tears still wet on their cheeks the mourners agree.
The Mosaic law of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth remains deep, its replacement , the doctrine of peace and respect is voiced but without conviction. Within hours of the terrorist outrage in Paris President Francois Hollande declared the insane execution of innocent citizens “an act of war” and ordered increased air strikes in far from Paris Syria and Iraq. And most of the rest of the world applauded.
In November 1945 with the battle fields of WW2 silent after five years of bloodshed, Ernest Bevin in a British House of Commons speech, said: “There has never been a war yet which, if the facts had been put calmly before the ordinary folk, could not have been prevented. The common man is the greatest protection against war.”
I fear that is no longer true. In the past few decades we, “the ordinary folk” have become accustomed to violence and although quick to deny, tend to enjoy it. Whether in video games, movies, sports where physical, often brutal, conquest wins the victors’ crown and crowd adulation, or the daily news parade, we either openly approve and meekly accept violence as “normal”, and a wars of attrition justifiable.
The target is too high to reach? Maybe it is, but we could make a start by adopting the cry of the relatively unknown poet Thomas Curtis Clark who wrote in the late 1800’s “Let us no more be true to boasted ace or clan, but to our highest dream, the brotherhood of man.”
And it’s a given that the “sisterhood” has more than equal dream rights.