Veterans Day: Will We Ever Overcome the Collective Madness of War?
World War I was called “the war to end all wars”. The soldiers who fought the first modern war were under the illusion that they would be the last ones to die in the name of the human collective psychosis that is warfare. I avoid getting into personal stories when I write on News Junkie Post, but I will make an exception for this article because this story that deeply affected my family is worth telling. Just like any French family, mine was strongly impacted by the conflict, and, even though France, which carried the heaviest death toll on the allied side, technically won the war against Germany, French people across the board lost.
One of my grandmothers’ older brother was a young officer who fought the Ottoman empire (an ally of Germany) at the border between Syria and Lebanon. He was a bright young man and, if he had survived the war, he would have taken over the thriving family business from his father. Two days after the war was officially over he was shot and killed by Ottoman troops, as neither side had been informed that the war had ended. Needless to say, the cruelty and absurdity of it all made my great grandfather fall into a deep depression that eventually compromised his health and the family business.
In every single town, and even the villages in France, there is a monument with many names to honor the local men killed in World War I. During the Peace Treaty of Versailles to settle the war, France still sought revenge against Germany. The French imposed on Germany an incredibly harsh punishment. France’s lack of realism and flexibility, combined with the global economic crisis of 1929, contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler. And, exactly 21 years after the end of the war that was supposed to “end all wars”, Europe and the world were once again engulfed in a collective psychotic episode on an even bigger scale. This time around, about 80 million people died globally in what remains today the most violent, brutal, and insane conflict in human history.
Since this pure madness, which affected almost every country worldwide, peace has never prevailed. Proxy wars unfolded almost immediately between the two new super-powers: the US and the USSR. War was in Korea in 1950, and shortly thereafter France was trying to preserve its fading empire in Indochina. The insanity of war has thrived ever since, despite the creation of the United Nations.
The UN was created to offer peaceful resolution to conflicts and disputes between nations before they fell into the insanity of war. The idea, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was absolutely the right one, but, unfortunately, at least so far, it has failed. Even though, as a species, we have come a long way in terms of technology, science, and communication, if you scratch the skin of the “modern” man there is still a brutal Neanderthal lurking in the darkness of our collective psyche: one who can kill, rape, and commit the most gruesome atrocities. War is our collective sickness, and in this regard we are no better than our ruthless predatory ancestor. Our species has certainly evolved, but our collective psychology is still stuck into resolving conflict with incredible violence, and, so far, we have not found the cure for this madness.