Sunday, 19 July 2009

Things will ever be the same

At our Writers' Group on Thursday, one of our members read out a short poem she had written. She had been a passenger in a car on the A1 in very heavy traffic when she had suddenly noticed a mother duck with a brood of babies, about to step out into the road. They were past in an instant but she feared for the babies' lives in that traffic - it was as though the mother was programmed to cross regardless.
She had then idly switched on the car radio in the very instant that the news said that yet that another soldier had been killed in Iraq. Her short poem brought the two incidents together and she said that she had been preoccupied by the thoughts of it throughout the rest of that day. It was a very sobering quarter of an hour as we discussed it.
This weekend the Wensleydale Railway is holding a "Forties weekend" in our local market town. The streets are festooned with red, white and blue bunting; there are a lot of would-be army officers strutting about in old-fashioned uniforms and carrying canes under their arms; there are jeeps and other old army vehicles in the main square and - best of all - women in wonderful forties hats, or women wearing fold-around aprons and turbans. There is a lovely atmosphere but a friend, who is a Quaker and very anti-war, was tempted to dress as a forties conscientious objector and stand in the Market Square with a "Down with War" placard!
All this prompted me to ask - will there ever come that time "when war shall be no more?" I think not. Maybe men are internally programmed to fight, to be territorial (it applies to males of all mammals to some extent doesn't it?) When one looks back through history there has been so much needless killing , so many sons, lovers, husbands and fathers have had their lives cut short. Yet reading about a young man in Afghanistan this week I read that he said the excitement of being in the front line was so great that it over-rode any feelings of fear - and you always thought you wouldn't be killed it would be somebody else.
Then in yesterday's Times (what would I blog about without it?) I see that archaeologists have just found a mass grave by the Ridgeway between Weymouth and Dorchester with the slaughtered, headless bodies of fifty-one young men in it. Carbon dating suggests they fell in about the tenth or eleventh century. All had been decapitated, mutilated and tossed into a pit, their heads lined up along one side. "Vikings or local heroes?" reads the headline as tests are being carried out to decide whether they were Anglo-Saxons defending their territory or Vikings on a raiding party. All that is certain is that they were all somebody's sons. In time we shall know whether they came from Scandinavia, Wessex, Denmark or Northern England.
Sorry it is a sombre post on this lovely sunny Sunday morning - but sometimes it is good to stop and think about such things - I hope you agree.


Phoenix said...

Completely agree.... that is what makes us people, that is what makes us human. I guess opposites are predestined to co-exist.. the good and bad, justice and injustice, war and peace, propsperity and poverty... I could go on. They balance our world. Without the bad, we'd perhaps start taking the good for granted. Without the pain of losing our fellow human beings in wars, we'd perhaps start taking our freedom for granted. I am not saying war is justified or necessary. Just that it is just there.. and perhaps there to drive home a point.
Very thoughtful post.

Heather said...

We have yet to find a solution to solving our differences by means other than killing each other, so I feel that the human race is not nearly as clever as it likes to make out sometimes. I have often thought that it is a good thing that our servicemen enjoy the action of war - where would we be without them - but it is a terrible price to pay. My son has been on active service in the Gulf and before that three times in Northern Ireland. My heart goes out to the servicemen's families and I consider myself very fortunate that he came home safely.

Elizabeth said...

A moving and thoughtful post, as ever.
I remember as a child talking to Boots, a gardener, all about life in the trenches: mud, rats, rotting feet.
Then Seigfried's Journey ( maybe still available?)
How permeated with war we are
and how horribly pointless.
And how heroic some people are.
Yes, I feel so much or service people's families.
Dear Weaver, no easy solutions.
All we can do is enjoy those things which are good.

steven said...

hello weaver, war is such a sad thing and as more and more information emerges about the relationship between it and the engine of the economy, my sadness becomes coupled with cynicism. not a good thing. as with all things that we recognize as inherently wrong, i hold out hope that there will come a time when issues of the sort that precipitate wars don't exist. much as rebellious teenagers eventually stop arguing with their parents. i hope it's something we will grow out of. thanks for a thought-provoking post. have a lovely day. steven

mrsnesbitt said...

What goes around comes around! War destroys families always has, always will.

Reader Wil said...

I am also anti-war and a member of several peace movements.
You asked yourself:" will there ever come that time "when war shall be no more?". So do I . Your first husband was a victim of WWII so am I. Who wants to kill? Or being killed? Or being traumatised for the rest of his life? But there has always been war as long as we know.
Good post, Weaver. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Arija said...

This morning we too sere hailed with the news of a 22 year ld Australian soldier had been killed in Afghanistan and our Prime minister had the temerity to say that he was killed so that our country could be safer when we would never have been threatened if we had had an ounce of backbone and not bowed to Bushes wishes. If the Russians could not achieve anything except the killing of many hundreds of young draftees, the arrogance of Bush passes description. I do feel for the Afghan people but obviously our polies have never been farmers or they would know that it is not safe to try to separate a fighting cat and dog in the farmyard lest they both join forces and turn on you.

Jenn Jilks said...

It is important be be thoughtful and reflect.

I think our wisdom and experience must be shared. Arija is right "he was killed so that our country could be safer", Bush made such a mistake getting involved. We cannot repair the culture of a people who seek glory in their power over others.

Studio Sylvia said...

Sombre it may be, Weaver, but it is a catalyst for reflection and appreciation of what we have: family, friends, opportunity to meet others across the miles via the internet, self reflection of abilities and talents, recognition of what is important in our lives.

Pondside said...

When so many of us feel this way, why are we still going to war? The despair crosses cultures and nations - yet we continue to fight.
My brother-in-law was in Afghanistan last year (medical officer) and had a great deal of difficulty coming back. He really was terribly affected by what he saw - the cruelty, the terrible injuries and death.
Yesterday in Quebec they buried the second Canadian killed there last week.

Sara said...

News of man killing man always hurts my heart, whether it be by war, terrorism or murder. We spend billions on medical science over sanctifying human life, point in case being the recent news of lab made human sperm & pills that can extend your life. But at the same time we also spend billions on sending young men (& women) to their deaths as if life were cheap. When will we ever get it right?

Dominic Rivron said...

A gruesome archaeological discovery and the older I get the less I find time desensitizes me to such things.

"War is the continuation of politics by other means," said Clausewitz. Just thought I'd throw that in. Is war just part of our "human nature" or a response to the circumstances in which we live? If the latter, war might become a thing of the past one day.

Amy said...

I agree, it's a pity we're constantly killing each other through time. Do you ever watch time team? We love it here, archaeology is a favourite thing to read about and watch on tv. NZ just doesn't have the same history that the UK does.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Phoenix - interesting viewpoint, I must say I had never thought of it like that.
Heather - in the second world war my brother was at Dunkirk - I often think what it must have been like for my parents - and how well they concealed their worry from me - a small child.
Elizabeth - the film All Quiet on the Western front made a profound impression on me in my early teens.
steven - well we can live in hopes but when I think of the literature glorifying - say - the Trojan wars - I think we still have a long way to go.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Denise - I am afraid I have to agree.
Reader wil - that lovely old Henry Allingham, who died this week-end, said that no one who had been to war ever wanted war again.
Arija - what you say is so true.
Jenn - the trouble seems to be that once you get into this sort of mess it is hard to get out - maybe something to do with losing face, which I have always thought was stupid anyway.
Sylvia - thanks for that comment.
Pondside - it bring it home all the more when one actually knows and speaks to someone who has been there.
Sara - another good view point.
Dom - a long way in the future, I fear.
Amy - yes, a good programme. I am sure you have just as much history as we do but it is more deeply hidden.

The Weaver of Grass said...


BT said...

What a thoughtful post Weaver. I agree with you, it is good to stop and think. What an amazing discovery - I shall be interested to know the results of the carbon dating and what have you to see whether they were Vikings or not. We are losing so many soldiers in Afghanistan at the moment, almost daily now. So sad and such a waste of life.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I do. Will we never move forward and stop the wars? Seems rather fruitless to hope.

Linda said...

As long as there are bullies in the world and as long as bullying is encouraged or is an "accepted" behaviour the end result will always be fighting. It is very difficult to imagine a world where people who are large in size or large in wealth would not take advantage of smaller, poorer individuals. Our own relatives are frequently eager to take advantage of each of us, and perhaps we of them. Whenever an imbalance of power exists, bullying if not war will happen. Let peace begin with me. Thank you for the values reminder.