It's the name of a film I'm watching right now on Star World, about a boy and his horse, and a war. The horse goes to war, and the boy follows. It's a lovely film, but it's also disturbing and sad, and its terribly brutal depictions of what war is sadden and sicken me.
I never cease to be surprised and disturbed at the glory so many people associate with war. The crowds cheering on the soldiers who are heading out to slaughter and be slaughtered. The triumph of the victors. To me, there is nothing glorious or noble in a victory of violence, no matter what the cause, no matter what the end.
Wars have kept some of us safe, and turned the lives of others into days and nights of terror and uncertainty. They have driven back dictators and castrated the power-hungry. They have killed far too many innocents, and seen power snatched from one greedy fist by another. They have defeated "the enemy" and given many people more freedoms, perhaps. They have defeated many others' faith in humanity, and crippled many bodies and souls. They have been the catalyst for many medical and technological advances. But not all of them.
War is here, part of humanity as much as weddings and birthdays, it seems. It's not necessary, but it's here. There will always be proponents of non-violence, but there will always be violence. Maybe one invites the other. It seems to be part of us, just as this human capacity for both deep love and trust as well as deep hatred and suspicion, for courage and sacrifice and nobility alongside fear and pettiness and greed.
Perhaps that is where the glory and nobility come into war, when individuals find room alongside their hate or anger or orders or desires, which are only human, for their humaneness, which is also only human, but harder to maintain under stress. That's where it is, I think. Not in the army, nor the nation, nor the cause. It's in the individual soldier who stands to fight, and somehow comes through the horror of war still able to feel love. I'm not sure if I'm right or wrong, but this is what I feel. The glories of war are not because of the violence, but in spite of it.
One thing struck me in this film - actually it is what made me decide to write this post in the first place, although I've moved the first paragraphs I wrote down here, to end the post:
Every so often, there's a scene in which a soldier happens to be
smoking a cigarette. Big white sub-titles appear over the picture:
SMOKING CAUSES CANCER. SMOKING KILLS.
Yes it does. But
we are a funny world, aren't we? I'd like to live in one where the big
white sub-titles stay on all through the picture, and they say:
WAR IS CANCER. WAR KILLS.
War won't be going anywhere soon, I suppose. But I can always hope that we would at least look at it with truthful eyes, and maybe that would be the beginning of its end.
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