Why we fight
By Chad Ingram
Published Nov. 9, 2017
This Saturday is Remembrance Day.
In thousands of communities across the country, crowds will gather at cenotaphs for solemn ceremonies where wreaths will be laid and silence observed, in honour of soldiers who fought and died for causes in which they believed.
Remembrance Day began with the end of the First World War and in Canada, is typically observed to honour those who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War and the war in Afghanistan.
Along with honouring those who have lost their lives, Remembrance Day is also an opportunity to reflect on war itself, on the horrific violence that is ever-present throughout the span of human history.
Humans are inherently violent. Not all of us, of course, but as a species. We have always, and continue to, systemically slaughter each other in staggering numbers. From the imperial wars of ancient Rome to the Crusades to warring city-states to modern warfare, we are constantly at battle with one another. These conflicts have sometimes been along religious lines – which is sort of odd if one sits back and realizes that every major religion teaches love and compassion for fellow human beings – sometimes along nationalistic lines.
War is always about power – either about obtaining it, or preventing an enemy from obtaining it. The search for power, the lust of it, is something that seems as inherently woven into human nature as the violence that it manifests.
War is declared by the powerful, but not often fought by them. War is sometimes dressed up in deceitful garb. Wars fought in the name of “freedom” are sometimes actually about economic interests, or interrupting the resources of a rival. Those fighting in wars always believe they are fighting on the side that is good, the side that is right. The history of war is always written by the victor.
So, as we remember lost loved ones and strangers alike, as we go about laying wreaths and pausing for moments of silence this weekend, perhaps we should also pause to consider why it is we fight in the first place.
And how we build a future with less violence in it.