Why do People fight wars?

For what they perceive is right.

Why are wars fought for so long? Our grandfathers start it we are born and continue their wars. It does not make any sense at all but we do it. We even come up with better- more barbaric weapons to kill our perceived enemies.

One thing I wonder is what goes on in a human mind when they kill? What do they feel afterwards? Do nightmares accompany their sleep? Do they feel good about themselves? Do you not feel as if you have desecrated something in yourself when you kill?

After reading Jacques Pauw’s description of the Rwandan genocide, I have become even more puzzled about human nature. In his book, he says that he visited Rwanda as the genocide was going on. He admits that it was hard to write what he saw and even then he feels that his description falls short of what he saw and felt. It was hard reading what he wrote.

In his words..’ how does one describe the stench, the rotting flesh, ballooned bodies, vacated bowels?…….the putrefying bodies were easier to confront. It was the facial expressions of the dead that became engraved on my mind.”

Just imagine dying in a war field. The sheer horror of it.

Imagine waiting for someone to hack you to death. Or a bomb to explode and blow you into a bloody pulp.

In a chat I had with a friend the other day, she described being in an underground cave where people were so squeezed together they had to stand. She said she could not imagine how it was, hiding underground from war in the dump and dark caves. Someone else who had been to the caves my friend was describing said that you could still feel the pain and the anguish of those who died there.

 ‘I cannot imagine that squeezing and dying in the darkness was much preferred than being on the ground where the war was happening. How much worse it must have been.’

The Red Cross Society was started by Henry Dunant who witnessed the horrors of war in the Battle of Solferino. He had gone on a trip to discuss the difficulties of conducting business in Algeria with Napoleon.

Well he was met with the horrors of war. And what did he do? He instead decided to help those he could. Later on he wrote a book known as “A memory of Solferino” and gave it to all leading political and military figures in Europe.

Imagine being abandoned after a battle and slowly dying from your wounds. Being surrounded by the dead and the dying, as you slowly die yourself. Crying in your pain, with no one to help you. What would you think of war then?

I wonder how some men have such power over other men’s minds that they would convince them to die horrific deaths from them. Half the time, the people who die in the battle field have nothing to gain from the conflict. Ideology and misguided hope spurs them on.

Would you let this be you?

Those who do not die on the battle field come back traumatized from the suffering and the pain they went through and witnessed. They cannot sleep, they cannot eat, they cannot live without being confronted by the horrors forever etched in their minds. Would you let this be your child? Or any other person you care for?

Inspite of all these things and many more I do not know about, men have time and time again gone to war. They say that at no one time has the world been without war. Really? Can it be true that as human beings we are so demented and blood thirsty?

How would I know? I cannot even look at a dead body.

When I think of it. It is absurd that in this day and age we are convinced to go to war and kill those who have been with us for most of our lives. We create excuses for our complacency. There is nothing I could have done. Times were horrible!

It is not true is it? That there is nothing you can do.

There is so much a single person can do. You can surely refuse to not think about what you are not doing or doing.

We love to excuse ourselves and blame other people where we fail.       

What I am saying is, it is better to try and keep peace in the first place. Stopping war is very hard. People become inured to death and the horror becomeS their new reality. Killing and torture becomes the order of the day.

It is better to prevent than to cure. And we all have a duty of ensuring that peace prevails. 

When I first attended a class in international humanitarian law, I did not know that there are rules even in war. It is should be obvious that you should not harm those who have not aggrieved you. Why should you walk into a village and massacre the women, the children and the old? What anger is this you have that would justify your actions?

How can we have something called a just war? Is war just in any way? When the costs of pacifying your anger are greater than the injustice caused on you?

Even when we go to a so called just war, why then do we not keep to the rules we have agreed amongst ourselves? Why is it that we are so unreasonable we harm those who have done nothing wrong to us?

Another thing about war is how we misuse the young and gullible when we wage it. In Africa it has gone to the extreme. Young children are abducted, given drugs and misguided to fight for the generals and master minds of war.

Even sadder, is that later on when the war stops and our short memory forgets all the horrors we experience, the warlords become villains and heroes of our legends and myths. Popular in our collective imaginations.

Those who mastermind the horrors of war are rarely apprehended. The small men pay for their sins. And the rest of us stand and helplessly watch as all this goes on. We allow them to buy their way out.

And you know what? War sounds like such a nice thing to do until it confronts you. What will you do if it ever does?









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