What would you die for?
It’s the 11th of November. Remembrance Day. The day we remember those who gave their lives in a war to protect our nation’s freedom.
At 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years continuous warfare… …In 1997, Governor-General Sir William Deane issued a proclamation formally declaring 11 November to be Remembrance Day, urging all Australians to observe one minute’s silence at 11 am on 11 November each year to remember those who died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts. (https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/remembrance/tradition/)
Remembering war has come in and out of fashion in my lifetime. From the days where it was believed to be a celebration of war and we, as teens, felt we were being called to commemorate the violent and seemingly unnecessary slaughter of millions. To a gentle and reverential tribute to men and women who sacrificially gave their lives in order to protect our freedoms.
It makes me wonder; for what I would give my life?
Frankly, I’ve never known a life without social freedom. Sure I can look outside my ‘middle class’ Australian experience into a world where war and genocide have existed for one, or tens, or hundreds or in some cases thousands of years, and tell myself how shameful it is. I can be repulsed at the cost measured in the loss of and affect on innocent lives and yet I can still retreat to my suburban home, with my locked doors and my social and intellectual freedoms and sleep the sleep of the unaffected.
Yet some are deeply troubled by the devastation that war permeates through whole communities. Cultures. Countries.
Would they risk their life for it?
Regardless of your answer, that’s what millions of Allied soldiers and service civilians did as they prepared to fight for our freedom. They selflessly submitted themselves to the country’s need. They joined, alongside our contemporaries to ensure our sovereignty was protected even though; they had never set foot outside their own borders.
But we’re much smarter now don’t you think? We play war with diplomatic mind games and rationality that assumes we are somehow no longer human. We can turn off our emotions to another’s cultural precepts and assume that they, like us, can hold themselves apart from any emotional drivers.
While we try to rationalise and justify our position, wars are being fought in foreign places based on emotional and cultural drivers that we cannot ‘understand’. We can be as intellectually affected as we like but we cannot assume to rationalise something that is not rationally motivated. It’s not until we are emotionally engaged that we become willing to invest.
Churchill during the Second World War seemingly understood that his nation would endure anything so long as his leadership was demonstrative and the people had engaged emotionally. (Just listen to some of Churchill’s speeches.)
When America bombed the crap out of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they did so to bring Japan, not to its collective intelligence knees, but to its emotional knees. They had long explained they had bombs that could devastate Japan, but that knowledge alone could not entice surrender. It was only when they were emotionally invested that Japan could be swayed. It was then they truly ‘understood’ the outcome.
So it appears to me that there are two types of knowing. One that will allow us to rationally understand the circumstances and make decisions and one that will allow us to risk our lives.
Victory or defeat, neither are intellectual concepts.
From Max von Sydow (I don’t know who he is but it seems to me that war is madness)
Hiroshima has become a metaphor not just for nuclear war but for war and destruction and violence toward civilians. It’s not just the idea we should not use nuclear arms. We should not start another war because it’s madness.
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Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor or contact an organisation such as Beyond Blue.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)