“Most people, if not all, fear war, death and destruction. Why? Because most people live with the fear of the unknown! Some also fear the night, for fear of darkness and the dark forces that they imagine lurk and attack under the veil of darkness. They wait nervously to see the sunrise. Some also fear the murky winter, for fear of the cold and gloom. They crave for the arrival of the spring – the life, with all its glory, warmth and colours. They know what they fear is transitory and not much of an unknown. They also learn their unique ways to manage their fears and how to bide time through difficult periods.
Regardless of whether or not one fears war and death, both are unavoidable, as nightfall is inevitable after sunset and winter after autumn. To alleviate such fears, albeit to a limited extent, religions introduced the concepts of heaven and hell, and reincarnation, encouraging humans to indulge only in good and righteous actions, but leaving ample room for the subjectivity of the terms ‘good’ and ‘righteousness’, which has led to severe discord among humans since the times immemorial.
Apparently, on the surface, some people do seem to believe in the concepts of heaven and hell, and reincarnation, but deep down most, if not all, fear death due to the fear of the unknown. Believing is one thing and knowing is another thing. The ground reality is no one knows what really happens after one dies. Thus, it will be useful if one talks about the subject matter in a more philosophical language.
Is war good or bad?
As such, there is nothing good or bad about war, as there is nothing good or bad about death. That is the way they are. Whilst death is natural, and must be accepted, war is a direct result of the human nature – boredom, greed and territorial ambitions, power and control, revenge, self-aggrandisement and self-immortalisation of the warring leaders, and their necessity to remain in power and fuel their country’s economy.
It is true that humans don’t realise the value of the day unless they see the night. The value of good health is realised only when one falls sick and becomes diseased or disabled. The value of that little finger is realised only after one loses it. Similarly, the value of peace and life is realised only after one goes through war and destruction. It is the Nature’s way to remind humans what peace means and Nature works also through humans. But humans get bored with peace and start flirting with the dangers of war.
Nature designs its onslaught with such subtlety that even the best of men – educated and intelligent – become blinded to irreversible, bloody consequences of their belligerent actions. But Nature never gets blamed; Hitler and Mussolini are demonised forever. People forget these leaders had enjoyed a great mass following. Directly or indirectly, their followers contributed equally in making them dictators and exhorted them to do what they eventually did to appease their masses – all for clinging to power though. These leaders hardly carried any firearms but their charisma was just enough to make them the spearhead of their masses. The ground reality, however, was that these leaders were just figureheads. The base of their power and ideologies rested with their faceless masses and followers. It is irony that people create their own gods of doom and destruction; they worship them through their unquestionable slavish servitude.
If there was eternal peace on the planet, one would call it a heaven, but a boring heaven. If all people on the earth were happy and materially satisfied all the time, it would be a dull and boring place; and the human world would not be able to sustain itself from an economic point of view. Imagine yourself eating your choicest dessert all the time; you will go crazy after a few hours. Have you ever figured out why young people pay hundreds of dollars for purchasing just a branded, faded and shredded, pair of jeans?
Let us learn from Nature. The way we accept death, first philosophically and finally physically – as soon as we discover there is no other way out – we are left with no other option but also to accept war. It is the way it is and it will always be as it has been. When was the world peaceful? It has been only 101 years and 74 years, respectively, since World Wars I and II ended. In the last seven decades, how many decades did not see a major military conflict on the planet?
Are wars unavoidable?
Wars don’t happen out of the blue and for no reason; they are deliberately planned, crafted and engineered to serve the economies and the strategic interests of faceless powers.
Most wars are undoubtedly unnecessary and triggered for trivial, jingoistic and political reasons. Some wars are thrust upon other nations who find it necessary to fight them for their existential reasons. When a country faces a number of significant internal challenges, most of which may be its own creations, and suddenly faces the prospect of imploding, as a direct result of a sudden threat on its borders, it is left to choose between only two options – do nothing or fight the external threat. The latter option gives it a slim chance to survive and retain its integrity. If it chooses to do nothing to address the external threat, it can survive and remain integrated only if it is able to successfully address all its internal issues, which may be more of an uphill battle, possibly impossible to be won. Countries, like humans, invariably take the path of least resistance.
Shrouded within all its enigmatic, dark mysteriousness, the slope of war can be so steep and slippery that, even before you realise, you are already fighting it as soon as you start flirting with it. On the one end of the power spectrum, it intoxicates the most intelligent and the powerful, and on the other, it petrifies and numbs those who are under threat. One thing leads to other till hell suddenly breaks loose and things spiral downwards beyond anyone’s control. All one thinks about is how to maximise the kill on the other side, or how to minimise the losses on your side. At the end of the devastation, even though a country may claim victory, the truth is no one actually wins a war. Humanity loses in all cases. On all sides, humans suffer, bleed, die and become scarred and disabled forever – both mentally and physically. There is no glory in war; there is no glory in killing and destroying. War is sheer madness irrespective of who starts it and how it ends.
Indian epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, provide enough warning against war but did the Indian subcontinent ever see any century without war? Man has never learnt and never shall. Perhaps because the Bhagwad Gita has declared that one’s soul is indestructible and one must fight for the dharma.
Can war be avoided?
War can be avoided but only if rigidity gives way to flexibility; short-term selfishness gives way to long-term benevolence; jingoism gives way to globalism; politics-driven nationalism gives way to responsible patriotism; and greed gives in to wisdom; and above all, if common sense is allowed to prevail.
It is prudent never to start a war if you don’t know how to finish it. In many cases, the actual ground scenario may prove your real challenges are much bigger that you had originally expected and / or your perceived enemy is a much tougher adversary than you anticipated. You may realise you may have bitten more than you could chew.
War can be avoided if leaders surround themselves with true friends, with conscience (not by sycophants), those who don’t appease them for fear of displeasure and reprisal, those who provide them with honest advice, without political correctness, howsoever, bitter that advice may be. Men of conscience speak the truth and out of wisdom.
War can be avoided if leaders follow their conscience. Sadly, conscience remains buried under ego and pride.
War can’t be avoided if salvageable situations are not addressed wisely by making simple, timely, face-saving U-turns – only for greater good of the mankind – but instead are facilitated to deteriorate and worsen, and allowed to turn into pressure-cookers, based on wrong assumptions of one or both warring parties.
Note that a pressure cooker explodes like a bomb if it is not removed from heat in a timely manner, especially when its pressure-valve is sealed and not allowed to vent out the pressure build-up inside it.
And what happens after the final war?
Nature destroys what is created before recreating it again. As old leaves fall in autumn and trees suffer naked in the cold of winter, new leaves appear in spring and trees bask again in the summer sun. Man is a strange work of Nature and, thus, Nature also works through man. It is in the man’s nature to destroy what is created and reconstruct what is destroyed. Destruction is essential before reconstruction commences.
Let us learn from Nature and derive a hope that the human race will not get wiped out. This planet will see new civilisations in the future as the present ones will gradually fade or even disappear suddenly into oblivion. New people will arrive and traverse the earth despite our continued endeavour – in the name of our progress – to create and pile up all possible means of our own destruction. As long as there is one healthy woman and one healthy man left on the earth to cohabit and copulate, the human race will hopefully continue. And then, new religions will be born, which will divide humans, again. New means and methods of destruction will also be created. The cycles of creation and destruction will continue perpetually till the sun shines.
But what if the human race is completely wiped out? What happens after the sun expands and devours all the planets in the solar system in the end? Nothing will return to nothing; it will be dark and silent again or perhaps not.
The human creation and evolution have done no great favours to our planet, perhaps their complete destruction may. Humans multiplied their population more than seven times in the last four centuries – thanks to the dawn of the Industrial Age and the subsequent advancement in various sciences and technologies. Their multiplication exacerbated their insatiable hunger for power and energy, which undermined their very existence. They disturbed the Nature. They must pay for their misdeeds.
Now what does this article lead to? It inspires one to recognise the transitory nature of life and, therefore, a need to live every moment that one is left with. Let us live – without hate or anger or greed – till we have the opportunity to do so. Let us also accept the rewards of our actions – karma. We deserve every bit of what has happened to us in the past and equally what will happen to us in the future. We created our destiny, there is no escape.” … Bill K Koul (21 Sept 2019)