WARNING: This post was hard for me to write so maybe disturbing to read. It contains both disturbing images and references.
This is my paternal grandfather as a Lieutenant in the Royal New Zealand Navy, in 1942. His son, my father, was eight years old. Grandad died in 1968 when I was three years old. The cause of his death were complications to injuries he had sustained in World War Two (and lived with for over 20 years).
He was a Navy man and served his time in Intelligence, which meant serving overseas in places that his family were never allowed to know. Before my father died last year he would often tell me that as a child he and my grandmother would regularly have no idea where my grandfather was. They would know a naval ship was leaving port one day and the assumption was that Grandad would be on it. But because of the Intelligence requirements my father never, ever knew where Grandad had been in those times. There are family rumours now days but no one knows for sure. It’s probably just as well.
I never really got to know him. I have two very vague memories of being with him, but from all I have heard since, I’m sure this is a man who I would have got on well with. From what I know this was a man who would do anything for you, regardless of his own disabilities (from the war). For many years he worked as a Child Welfare Officer and would regularly bring children home to live with them. I like everything I have ever heard about this man.
Perhaps I’m being unrealistic but maybe if he hadn’t been required to serve in the war, and hadn’t got those injuries, he would have lived long enough for me to get to know him, and for him to see me grow up. But when you’re passionate about something I don’t necessarily think one has to be practical, and perhaps there will be more evidence of this as I go through my Challenge.
I can’t give you a whole list of logical reasons why war is a bad idea. I’m not like that. It’s just in my heart, that I can’t accept sending innocent mean and women to fight, and possibly be injured or killed; and I can’t accept setting up a situation where innocent people (who probably have enough crisis in their lives already) get injured or killed. It’s just wrong and there simply has to be a better way to deal with conflict.
When I was 15 years old I encountered my first gun. And no, this wasn’t some outback hunting trip (I’m not into those either but maybe that’s another post), but instead it was a recently ex-boyfriend who loaded a gun in front of me, handed it to me and asked me to shoot him. He said if he couldn’t have me, then he wasn’t going to live. There’s more about this man in a previous post, but that’s not really important. It was the beginning of a very long journey for me. What is important is that poor, little 15 year old me got the fright of her life. If I did what he asked, would he be dead? If I didn’t do what he asked, would I be dead?
From that moment on I have stayed as far away from guns as I could, and I really don’t see reason why members of the public should have access to them (especially somewhat delusional 18 year olds). Whether in war or peace, I think there is too much that can go wrong. One impulsive move is all that it takes to kill someone. Life is worth far too much for that. If we give people the right to carry arms, then we give them the right to create their own war, and then someone will always get hurt.
Recently I came across Charlie Chaplin‘s The Speech of The Great Dictator. Personally, I think the text is brilliant and Chaplin is convincing when you watch the link below. I could use parts of it to talk about most of the passions I have listed in my Challenge but I like this:
“Soldiers: don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.
Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate, only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers: don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.” (1.)
I am fortunate to be living in a country, and born in an age, where compulsory military service is not an issue. For my grandfather he didn’t have that luxury. He had to do his duty, and from what I understand he was proud to do it. Certainly my father was proud of his father, even though there was a sense of loss in the five years of his childhood that his father was gone, and then the rest of his youth with a father who had seriously ill health.
For me though, there is a choice. I choose to go with what I was taught as a child (as a Christian) and what many other religions also recommend in their own ways.
“There is a saying, ‘Love your friends and hate your enemies.’ But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
(TLB, Matthew 5:43-48) (2.)
No, my reasoning might not be enough to convince governments but it is what I feel strongly about. I don’t ever want to be put in the position of being made to fight, nor do I want to see anyone else forced for fight. I completely respect the people that choose military service but I don’t agree with the policies that make it necessary. Enough people have been killed in wars and I passionately believe that as a planet we have to find a better way to deal with our differences and our injustices.
- The Passions Profile Challenge (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- The Greatest Speech Ever Given, by Charlie Chaplin (techzwn.com)
- Tracing The Divides In The War ‘To End All Wars’ (wnyc.org)