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Autor: anton 15 September 2010
Words: 1172 | Pages: 5
War in the Modern World
War has fascinated the minds of the greats throughout history. Its concepts and understandings have been passed on to us through the few surviving works of those, whose lives were touched by war, in an ancient archive. Some saw war as an ordinary, inevitable phenomenon that has a place among natural order of human lives (Jacob Walter), while others interpreted it as devastating and terrible deviation from the natural order of things (W.T. Sherman). Over the course of our archival readings we have learned of war through the records from the Trojans in their leather sandals (Hector), the horsemen of Sherman's brigades, the WWI soldiers with their new gas shells and machine guns, and eventually through the eyes of the jungle and desert warriors with their booby traps and air strikes. While ways and methods of war have changed with the course of time, people never seemed to have loosened their grip on war as they continued to rise to the call to arms and go to battle to kill and to die. This is a crucial observation as it allows us to reason that, perhaps, war is an important part of human existence. People eat, sleep, make love, and make war.
Aside from the consistency of its occurrence throughout history, war also fascinates with its complexity, or, more directlyÐ’â€”its irony. It could be mesmerizing and adventurous to some participants, and at the same time evil and hellish to others (O'Brian). It combines death, destruction, fear and atrocities unheard of in the times of peace, with courage, loyalty and passionÐ’â€”undoubtedly qualities we all admire. Based on the records of the archive I have come to believe that to best understand this concept of irony one must look at war as at least two conflicts in one. The first one is that of the nation's leaders. It glorifies war, it tells tales of heroism and bravery and how it is a man's duty to defend his motherland. The second one is personal warÐ’â€”the struggle with basic human dignity and morality in the face of the forgiving indifference that most soldiers, as evident from the archive, face at war (attitude of Rat's friends when he is blow apart, Dulce et Decorum Est). The fact of the matter is that both are right in their unique ways, they simply live in different realms and have different eyes that see war differently. They may both be right, only from their respective positions. War can bring the best in people, as well as the worst, it is the ultimate test oh human morality, and at the same time war shapes its own morality into human structure. That is why I conclude, agreeing with Tim'Obrian, that standard poles of morality, as represented by good or evil, are inadequate when trying to analyze war. They simply act as answers to the question of people in one realm, and can never satisfy the inhabitants of both. But because we only have one physical world which citizens of both realms must share, the controversy and thus the irony associated with war will continue.
Looking at this small sample of archival history we notice the consistency of war throughout it. Viewed as a sample of history, it allows us to reason that war was a part of human history from the beginning. It has always existed on Earth, be it wrong or right, moral or pointless, but it appears to be always necessary. It seems that humans can not live without war. Some of the stories we read of war are shocking. They portray drastic changes in people, bringing the primal instincts out in them. At times some solider seem act and, more importantly, reason in a manner similar to that of beasts, losing
basic qualities that we usually attribute to being human (Slaughter of a water buffalo or hacking away at the dead Iraqi soldier). Perhaps people's need for war arises from its very evil nature in hopes of creating something goodÐ’â€”we need it, perhaps, to simply remind us that we are human. Simply observing the matters, I notice that, perhaps, due to complexity of humans, in war, some cease to exist as human beings turning instead to their barbaric instincts in an attempt to stay sane, while others react differently. They try to interpret the situation around them, clear their feelings and justify their actions. They also put their experiences to writing, which become building blocks for the archive. The most sincere and open ones end up among those that touch its readers in the most profound way. Inevitably, their goal is to teach the reader, to show him what happens when humans turn to animals, bring him closer to the world he would otherwise not likely to see so that he would not forget of his humanity, before he himself has to experience it through war, which, in accordance with the archive, is not unlikely. Maybe in that lies the main lesson we can take from our observations. After all, throughout the span of the archival history we have witnessed different people reflect on their respective war experiences, however, many of them seemed to be centered on the same core. Be that the portrayal of war as horrendous disasters for human character, a source of much despair and loss (Jarhead), or on the contrary, a birthplace of heroes and unstoppable bravery. (Tennyson) The modern nature of war has only changed with the modern nature of men who breathe life into it, eventually arriving at the opinion which, I believe, best summarizes the essence of the archiveÐ’â€”"War is hell, but that is not the half of it, war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage andÐ’â€¦fun. War makes you a man, war makes you dead."(The Things They Carried, 80). In the end, humans give birth to war and fill it with all the human emotions, making it their greatest enemy, their greatest friend, and their greatest servant of reminder of their humanity. I must accept, of course, the other side of the coin, argued by the likes of F.T. Prince. Maybe God meant for us to have war, maybe this is a part of his big plan, we don't know, however disregarding the possibility would take away from the irony that is so closely tied to the concept of war. The archive does not allow us to explore further changes in war as it changed with time, but there is not sense in arguing for lack thereof. Even today, so many years past, the war still rages and its end is nowhere in sight, and all that's left is the wonderÐ’â€”"Will the world ever saner beÐ’â€¦"(Channel Firing, 496).
Thomas Hardy. "Channel Firing" 496
Tim O'Brian. "The Things They Carried" 80
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