Events,  World View

Wars, Past and Present

As a child of Portsmouth, the Royal Navy will always have a very special place in my heart; this is the home of the Royal Navy, which has been based there since 1194 and which forms an integral part of the city and it’s spirit. The Common at Southsea is dominated by the Naval War Memorial, pictured above, a place which I wandered through a million times during my childhood years.

At this time each year, I gladly attach my little Royal Navy poppy to the lapel of my coat and I wear it proudly. And on this particular day – Armistice Day – I, along with the rest of the nation, stop at precisely 11 o’clock and observe the Two Minute Silence.

During those two minutes, our thoughts generally go to those who were killed during wars past – especially the two World Wars, which caused such horrific devastation and which remain as a very visible scar upon the face of humanity. The First World War was supposedly “the war to end all wars” – and yet in the years since, how many further wards have we endured, each one as barbaric and as futile as all the others.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
we will remember them.

War has gone nowhere. The present war in Ukraine is proof enough of that. Thew news every day is filled with stories of destruction and horror and the world seems at a loss to do anything to bring this atrocity to a speedy conclusion. And so we watch. And we hope.

War is much more than simply the absence of peace. It is the denial of the humanity of another nation and its people, a desire for the destruction of the identity of those people, a wish to overcome and to destroy. War is not good. We can justify as much as we like but the fact remains – war is brutal and terrible and an insult to the humanity off every one of us.

Peace, conversely, is more than simply the absence of war; it is something far greater than this. It is quite possible to have no real peace even in the absence of overt war – indeed, the Holy Father has been pointing this out to us for some time now, telling us that the world is in effect enduring a third world war “by piecemeal” – and I think he is right. War is the final step on this path, not the first.

Humanity is defined by its ability to learn. On this Armistice Day, may all of us pause for a moment and think back to all those wars past – and learn something of the lessons they offer us.


Catholic | Retired Nurse | UK

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