My daughter has decided to take history as part of her 'Options' here in the UK and she’ll be studying the Vietnam War, amongst other things. Having just completed the Second World War and soon moving onto the Korean War she asked me if I believed in a world peace one day.
I would’ve liked to have lied and said yes, absolutely because I think no child or teenager wants to believe that war is inevitable. But I didn’t; my father’s constant lying about everything, and my own sad inability to lie convincingly, meant I told the truth – in this case; no, I don’t believe there will ever be world peace. Well, not unless some outside force, such as violent space aliens, were to threaten us and draw us together; as this is completely unlikely I stand by my original point.
My reasoning for this, as I explained to my horrified daughter, is that we’re too violent as a species. I mean I’m no tree hugging hippy with flowers in her hair, but even I baulk at what’s going on in the world today.
Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Afghanistan are just a few of the areas currently enduring conflict and bloodshed; at a time when we’re supposed to be ‘at peace’. We’re only happy when we’re bombing seven bells out of each other at worst, and killing each other in ‘close combat’ at best – in other words when we can see the whites of our enemy’s eyes.
There are always going to be dictators who view a more peaceful land as an easy target; the people there as weak and so easily subdued. Look at Tibet – a peaceful people now reduced to setting themselves on fire because they’ve been invaded and taken over by China, and can see no other way out to show their plight to the world.
Britain itself is fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now Argentina is posturing about the Falklands again. Therein lies a tale in itself; the Falklands were uninhabited scruffs of land until they were settled by French and English settlers. The Spanish didn’t come in until a long time later; then, because of their heavy handed approach to 'people management', were soundly ousted at the hands of the islanders who were, by this time, solely British.
The UK later asked the Falklanders if they wished to be governed by the UK and they said yes; so that was that. The Falklands officially became the furthest flung part of the United Kingdom.....at the behest of the people themselves; much like Gibraltar. They're not oppressed and they're not occupying Argentinian soil; I really wish Sean Penn in particular, and the Argentinians in general would just pick up a history book.
So of course the Falklanders are more than a little upset to be told, since they’re 10-12th generation inhabitants, by people who were there for a mere blink of an eye in historical terms (and who tried to subjugate them as well) that they don’t belong there and they, the Argentinians, actually ‘own’ the land. The irony here is that Argentina resolutely call the Falklands ‘The Malvinas’, which is a bastardisation of the French term “Îles Malouines” from when they, along with the British, were the first settlers.
Of course when you look round the world, this is the main problem that starts so many wars – one country has what another wants; second country refuses to give it up and so off they go. Battles were so much shorter in ancient history because the generals, and even the kings, would ride at the head of the army – leading them into the conflict; the men would fight until the end or the death of the king/leader.
These days of course kings wouldn’t dream of being so foolhardy, and generals would rather sit at a table pushing little wooden representations of the enemy around than face them themselves. Sadly this means their men become little more than nameless masses; as the generals said about the Vietnam War “it’s about their number of dead being more than ours that proves we're winning”.
So, basically, I believe that there will always be a battlefield and always those poor souls that have to fight upon them. Perfect peace is a great ideal but, to me at least, an unattainable one. So long as we remember that, and make sure that we’re armed accordingly, then the small amount of peace we have will at least last a little longer.....how much; well, that’s the 50 million souls question isn’t it?
This is Simi, thanks for reading......