This will be somewhat of a free-form word-heavy post, but I must say it.
Today is the 11th of November, 2012, Remembrance Day – which started at the end of hostilities of World War 1 on “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month,” in 1918. I’ve spent this morning looking up statistics and numbers, as I tend to find that I can wrap my head around such things with the context of math. The question I was looking to answer was “what is the scale of the cost of war?”
This opened up various sources of information posing debates on what “counts” as a casualty of war, and whether civilians count into the totals alongside the soldiers, as well as the reliability of historical data & census information.
The first World War, from 1914 to 1918, consumed the lives of 37.5 million people. Both civilians and soldiers alike.
A number so large it is almost meaningless, until you consider another number: The population of Canada. There are approximately 34,482,779 Canadians living today. As I look out my window and into the rain-drizzled streets, filled with various people going to and fro to each of their own engagements… Going to meet friends, heading home, departing for weekend work, or just out for a stroll… I try to picture all of those individual people gone. All the buildings & towers surrounding me would squat empty & dark, as obscene cemetery hives looming over silent streets. An entire country goes black, expunged from the face of the earth, and that is still not enough to pay off the final cost of that first war that plunged the world into a blood-bath.
And that’s just one “great war.” Which set the conditions for an even worse war to spill out from the depths of anger, hatred and the lust for power.
It has been estimated that since the dawn of recorded human history, wars and genocide have claimed the lives of 2.2 BILLION people. All because aggressive individuals would tenaciously claw their way to positions of power, and inflict their brand of ‘reasoning’ and ideologies upon the people. Many would agree with these despots – and all of these people fully believed they were in the “Right.” And the “Right” for what? More land? Different beliefs? Prejudice against race? Desire for total control & domination? And the means to achieve this “Right,” they turned to brute force.
As inexcusable as any of the reasons to start open war are, we also cannot wholeheartedly dismiss any resistance as “evil.” We all have an instinctive need to survive, and in the face of such hostility, one can only choose to fight back, or surrender to domination & death.
For as long as there are humans that believe that violence is a valid course of action, there will still be wars between people. There will be deaths, deaths of people with friends & families. People with their own hopes, dreams, and nightmares. Some will have loved, some will still wonder about the mystery. A few will carry anger and hatred in their chests. Some will be thinking about their loved ones that they fight to defend.
Many will die wondering “Why?”
That is the blackest question, for the answer can never truly justify the sacrifice. All because certain individuals would seek utter destruction as the means to achieve their goals. Because they leave no room for conversation, or they refuse to listen to the other side. They refuse to accept the right of existence to their “opposition.”
It’s hard for me to conclude this, in the face of such realities. So instead, I will just urge you to enjoy your lives to the fullest – seek out your friends and families, enjoy a book, see some art, have a laugh, have a cry. For those that have gone before us would want us to do nothing less.
Thanks for reading.