mardi, février 06, 2007

The war to end wars

Sian and I watched the last part of the Anne of Green Gables movies tonight. We'd managed (well I managed) to miss the second part, where she becomes a teacher, and gets engaged to Gilbert, the idealistic young man who eventually trains as a doctor. In the third part, after a time in New York, they come back to Prince Edward Island. Gilbert buys Green Gables, and he and Anne are set to have a great life-the only problem being WWI. Most of the movie takes place on the battlefield of France and in London-and, without being needlessly violent, it doesn't shirk the depiction of the bloody cost of war. World War One was a needless war-infamous as one where old men sent young ones off to die. Perhaps it is simply in our nature to start fights-and then to up the ante and drag in others. It is hard to imagine that anyone who had been in a war would ever be in favor of another one. Those of us who have not seen the bodies of young men and women on battlefields can be so glib in talking about starting democracies and defending freedom-but we need to remember the number of wars that just ended because finally men in power (mostly men) were just too damned tired to fight anymore. What would Europe have been like, particularly Germany and France and England, if almost a whole generation of men hadn't been killed in Alsace and Neuve Chapelle and all the other places now memorialized in poetry and history books? Lines of white gravestones mark the spots where idealists and mercenaries and career soldiers died...for what, exactly?

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