1914 – 2014

31 August 2014

1914 – 2014

In August it was exactly one hundred years ago that the First World War broke out. None of the warring parties realized beforehand what they would bring down on the people of the continent with their irresponsible behavior: years and years of disaster and many millions of deaths.

Jan Marijnissen

Throughout Europe nationalism pushed empathy and wisdom aside. But when the intelligence is away, the emotions play, and the result was world war. Twenty years later another would follow, one which would be even greater, even bloodier, even more insane.

Historic events never have just one single cause. History is a juxtaposition of cause and effect by which everything is connected to everything.  It is the difficult duty of politicians to analyse the circumstances and avoid superficial and crude propaganda and demagoguery.

Whether we’re talking about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or the Israel-Palestine conflict, or the civil war in Ukraine, the truth, de-escalation and the search for solutions lose out in the struggle for attention against the lies and the constantly recurring hysteria. Bias, one-sidedness and indolence pave the way to an armed clash in which a great deal of innocent blood will flow. Only in the second instance are people prepared to see that by definition peace can only be concluded with one’s enemy.  Only when one of the parties has won or both parties are exhausted does an end come to the madness. Or perhaps this happens because the winner, under his conditions, imposes such, or because a compromise is found.

I hear now politicians of every stripe saying that the army must be enlarged and strengthened. Evidently the supposition continues to exist that the deployment of massive violence offers a solution to the problems before us. My suggestion is to put the hundred million extra allocated to the Defence ministry to use in improving the teaching of history.

Above: Canadian soldiers in the trenches (photo: Flickr, Provincial Archives of Alberta | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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