the green fields of france - eric bogle

The sun's shining down on these green fields of France,
The warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance.
The trenches have vanished long under the plow,
No gas, no barbed wire; no guns firing now!
But here in this graveyard, that's still no mans land,
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand,
To a man's blind indifference to his fellow man,
And a whole generation were butchered and damned

Aye, I'm getting both philosophish and hippieish now. Thereby more or less accidentally finding the eminent song of The Green Fields of France, originally written by Eric Bogle and masterly covered (slightly surprisingly) by Irishpunk-band Dropkick Murphy's. It's a song telling the tale about someone sitting by the grave of you Pvt. Willie McBride, that died at age 19 in the year of 1916, with the narrator of the song thinking about the young man's destiny and what might've happened to him. It's a beautiful song, and I advice you to get it. The Dropkick Murphy's version is the best one, so I advice you to get that.

The reason of my sudden change of mood, to philosophical from simply lazy and happy, is a movie I watched (sadly not the whole at the same time, but half yesterday and the rest today). I take for granted that you've all heard about it: Schindler's List, starring Liam Neeson and Ben Kingsley in the leading roles, and Ralph Fiennes as the most twisted German officer I've seen on screen. The movie itself, directed by the probably greatest director of our time, Stephen Spielberg, is nothing but a masterpiece.
The movie is based upon the true story of the German businessman and convinced nazi Oskar Schindler, that arrives to Kraków soon after the Germans have invaded Poland. With a good sense for making contacts and a brilliant sense for building up a business, even if it mainly means dealing over the responsibility to skilled sub-workers, he starts a factory using only Jewish workers: by that, he can pay them less. Their salaries goes to the SS, but the point to him is that they are cheaper than Polish workers.
As the story goes on Schindler is starting to doubt though, and the change of him as a person is the astonishing part of the movie. 198 minutes long, but that's 198 minutes of art, and nothing less. I won't give any more of the story, since I consider it everyones duty to watch it themselves as soon as possible. No discussion about it.
When I had finished watching the movie I was discretly sobbing and felt as if my eyes had been opened again, even though I've seen quite a few movies about the Holocaust and also have read a lot about it. That's the feeling you get when seeing something simply astonishing. However, after some thinking and listening to sweet ballads about peace and love and the Emerald Isle I feel resurrected, and I feel more for writing something hopeful, rather than grieving for a happening I can never affect, but only do my best to prevent from happening again.

Did you really believe them when they told you the cause,
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?
Well the suffring', the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
The killing and dying it was all done in vain.

After World War II there hasn't been any really big war (not counting civil wars and revolts in the USSR) or armed conflict on European soil, more than the wars in Yugoslavia. And in Yugoslavia it was mostly concerning the Balkan countries, until it started to get too much so that the United States of America took their responsibility and cleaned up. And with all due respect, I dare to claim that the major part of the Swedish population only were affected by the war through immigration to their hometowns.

I believe Europe is getting slightly spoiled and left out from the horrible things of the world, it almost feels a little unfair. Unfair in the way that people in general, I stumble across them everywhere, get more and more apathic when it comes to war and violence. "Conquer those, crush those, yada yada and smash those, they might get dangerous in the future".

Where's the morale in that?

Now, this was ages before my own birth, but I still wonder if Europe has escaped the clouds of the two World Wars, when our continent was turned in to a big, muddy battlefield, stinking of mustard gas.

Oh Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again and again and again and again!

The battlefield has since been moved. The target for the worlds armed forces has been moved from Berlin to Baghdad, and the warning triangle from Moscow to Pyongyang and Tehran. All the time further away from Europe. All of a sudden the europeans, the ones that ages ago created a proud tradition of killing eachother has been the peaceful and civilized population of the world, and this only in a matter of a century or so.

And of course it's wonderful. I don't want to have to live to see soldiers' boots crossing the borders into my country, nor any other country in our vicinity. I want to see peace through my days and I want my children, and grandchildren to grow up in peaceful times. Of course it matters a lot for me.

But does it matter less to the rest of the world? Does it make any difference if you're Irani and have a nutjob dictator building nukes, or if you're Iraqi and probably will have to see your land fall apart in an armed conflict between militia and foreign armed forces, or if you're Korean and don't get any food, since the holy leader of your country is giving the bread to the army?

Does it make any difference at all?

Doesn't this illustrate the absurd thing in the western world taking responsibility for the rest through invading their countries, deposing their leaders without any plans on how to revive a working state? And as well the absurdity in young men and women joining the army to travel over half of the world to reach a battlefield, a hellhole where they are living with the risk of getting killed during both day and night, as well as morning and evening?

To continue with the subject I'd like to mention one of the most genial movie scenes I've seen: In the movie Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore that I also assume that all of you have heard about Moore is in one scene standing outside the Capitolium. He is dressed as a draftsman, and every U.S. Senator that walks past him is stopped, and encouraged to let his son join the army to fight for his land. To noone's surprise, none of them were to keen on it and Moore was eventually shoved away from the place.

Doesn't this say quite a lot? Everyone (well, let's say almost everyone) wants to get rid of all the injustice in the world and have everyone live freely and happily for the rest of their lives.

But noone (well, let's say almost noone) wants to send their son or daughter to fight for it. Not in a place from where bodybags are coming by the week, and increasing in numbers.

My point in this is that yes, of course we want freedom, both for ourselves and for others. The farther away it is though, the less it concerns us. And countries liberating/invading (I'll let you choose the term you see best fit) other countries can do so, as long as it doesn't interfere with our daily life and routines.
We can accept a battlefield in the other end of the world since we've forgotten, or are ignoring, the horror of how it once was here, in Europe, on our own home continent.
I will not change the world with this blog post, of course not. It will be read by at most 20 people, commented by a few, and then I'll write a new blog post tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and eventually this will just be another post among many.
But I'd like to remind you, reader, that this planet is ours, and ours only in the future. If many enough of us remembers it, we can one day get an end to pointless killing and illegitimate wars.

Cheers, and peace.

8 kommentar(er).:

Alex said...

What pisses me off is that they said "never again" after the Holocaust. And okay, it hasn't happened here, but what about Rwanda? Darfur? Somalia? Yugoslavia? Cambodia? There are so many places where people have been killed because of a group they were born to belong to. And it just doesn't stop. How can we expect to learn from history if we don't know about each other's history? If we don't try to spread our knowledge?

Alex said...

And something not concerning war, but another important issue of today:
http://aftonbladet.se/vss/klimathotet/story/0,2789,994381,00.html

David said...

Great writing Snuggles, this was really, really interesting to read.
I still have relatives in the US army that I don't know where they are today, or if they will be dead tomorrow. All of this thanks to Bush...

Btw, since you liked Schindler's List you would probably like The Pianist as well, if you haven't seen it already.

Ems said...

Very nicely written :) Touching.
A world without war sounds so incredibly wonderful. One can always dream about that.
I completely agree with you Alex as well. Spreading knowledge is important, and I would say that even more important is caring.
And I'm sorry to hear about that David.
We could watch The Pianist someday. It is quite long and rather sad though. But a very very good movie :) I want to see Schindler's List someday as well

Lord Sfemen said...

What about the "savage" American natives (the 'indians'), alex? Or the aborigines in Australia, or the people of India? Those things happened before WWII, before we had a word for genocide (allegedly it was invented during the trial at Nüremberg). Have you heard about the Trail of Tears? Did you know that it was allowed for any 'white' person to shoot an Australian native if he spoke in his own language? Or that it was commonplace to destroy Hindu temples because they were not Christian?

The driving force behind genocide is religion. Hitler did not grasp the theory of evolution, no matter what cretinists (no, not a misspelling) of today say; "the Holocaust was caused by Darwinism."

I am not calling religion a bad thing, necessarily, I'm just saying that it is the driving force behind stuff. Religion, and the closely related topic of political ideology. I have seen fundamentalists who think that everyone who's not a Christian goes to hell, even if he died before Christianity even was a religion. I have seen people who equate homosexuality with pedophilia. I have read texts so ignorant of science that the author seems like he comes from another world.

My point after this antitheistic rant? Religion, politics and morality are often the cause for bad things. The only way we can get out of this bog of intolerance is by actually viewing humans for what we are: organisms, like any other, living pointless lives on a pointless planet in a pointless universe. We have to remind ourselves of the fact that we HAVE NO PURPOSE. According to me, believing in a purpose, or a creator, or a higher power that defends the human species as such at all, is a one-way ticked to intolerance. It's not a big leap from "humans are unique" to "Caucasian males with a Christian moral are the rightful rulers of this world."

I'm not telling you to become atheists, if you believe -- I'm just saying that if we want to avoid genocides in the future, we have to realize that we are nothing unique, nothing glorious, nothing beautiful. We are just machines; biological machines. Our emotions are electrical signals; our thoughts are mathematical processes. Our movements are coordinated by a bloody idiotic little processor somewhere in the head; our brain is a computer, nothing less, nothing more.

When people realize Homo sapiens sapiens is nothing special, we can transcend the silly notions of "man's hegemony over beasts" or, by extension, "white man's hegemony over negroes" or whatever.

Alex said...

I've seen people with those kinds of opinions as well Arthur, and I think you know that.
And it isn't religion itself that is a problem, it's fundamentalism. Religion can often be a reason for people to try to do good, but fundamentalists are narrow-minded and refuse to see beyond what they claim to know.
There have always been genocides of course, and I was talking about genocides after WWII because Snugglie was writing about WWII in particular.
For many people I think there being a purpose with life is a main reason to try to change, and change it for other people as well. Most people may not know what they think their purpose is, but we've had this discussion before, and for a lot of people it is a comfort just to believe that there is a purpose.

Dardan said...

This is my personal belief, and you may, or may not, agree but who really cares?

Religion is Not evil, or in any way a disease or cancer upon the world.

And please don't take me for a religious man now, for even if I follow several traditions of my designated religion, I would, if such a place existed, burn in hell for the doubt I feel in my heart about a greater being such as the One God. So therefore I choose not to believe in hell/heaven but I'm nevertheless conflicted as to the existence of a higher entity.

Ok, now I'm getting away from the point. What I wanted to say is that, religion (where Exactly does it say that killing people is good in any of the major texts of Islam/Christendom/Judaism?) is not evil, but humans are. Now, the reason for this disrespect for the human race is easy, in 10'000 years of civilization, the one thing we , as humans, have perfected the most, is how to kill each other... with what we have accomplished, it seemed so obvious that there is something in us, as a race, that makes us such beasts... In our core, we are all able to commit those terrible astrocities committed by, not monsters but by normal family men so long ago (and still today)

Alos, people choose to misinterpret words that actually preach goodness to something that fits them, they twist ancient word so that they get the answer they seek, to the exclusion of anyone elses opinion.

Now, I'm quite tired, and even though I feel as though there is much more for me to say about this subject, it doesn't seem as I am so able to write it down, to really explain what I mean, at least not to my own satisfaction.
Not everyone can be so lucky as to have the extraordinary gift of words (I'm looking at you "Snugglie") but at least I tried.
Best Wishes
Dardan

P.S, Have a nice Valentine's day (even if it's a commercial holiday, created with the sole intent of selling tonnes roses and obscene amounts of chocolade)

Lord Sfemen said...

I hate religious doubt. I've been tormented for a long time about whether I truly can ignore the possibility of the Christians being correct in their assertment -- and I came to the conclusion that, while not a scientifically defendable practice per se, any god at all, if such exists, would be defined in a very different way from what we usually concieve today.

You see, I believe in the future existence of gods. When we reach Strong AI -- which is unavoidable and even desirable -- it is going to become something AKIN to a god in the traditional notion, but technically not a god. A likely scenario is that a computer with vast machine intelligence would be able to transcend singularity (the point at which we cannot understand its thought patterns) and thus aligning itself with the theological claim that "God/gods work(s) in mysterious ways."

Any power that transcends the human notion, and becomes wholly incomprehensible, is theoretically to be designated a god, according to my (and many others') take on transhumanistic ideas.

Also, there are a number of strict philosophical problems with maintaining a monotheist stance; for example, the Theodicé Problem or the Problem of Good and Evil. The Bible solves the second one, stating that the Lord is capable of, and indeed has, created evil, and "seen it as a good thing" -- but there are numerous other things which makes me seriously doubt the existence of a single god. Were I religious, I would probably be a polytheist of some sort.

I agree with alex; fundamentalism is a dangerous concept and one that should (preferrably) be terminated. Bang, bang. No more fundies. Or perhaps not -- that claim seems like the typical thing a fundie atheist would say. Education is the best way to terminate the ill of fanaticism.

You misinterpret me, Dardan (by the way, what religious denomination do you belong to? I thought you were Muslim, but your writing indicates agnostic sympathies), if you think I am calling religion an evil thing. This is because:

1. I do not believe in the concept of good and evil; thus, I cannot deem religion necessarily a good thing, or an evil one at that.

2. I am fully aware of that the only true disease on human society, as far as theology goes, is atheism. Atheism lacks an evolutionary value -- indeed, many findings suggest that religion has evolved. This does not necessarily conflict with the theistic Darwinism I envision people here embracing, as religion could've been planted in our genes by a higher power.

3. Also, I totally agree with you. People use their beliefs to motivate killing in the name of their own personal desire. Hitler used religion; Stalin used atheistic ideas and his own twisted version of Marxist theory(he was a decidedly unorthodox communist and lacked a proper understanding of the workings of neo-Darwinism; shit, the guy was Lamarckian, I think!). The Inquisition killed people on a theistic basis; Pol Pot killed people because he could.

There are always crackpots and fucking insane people in the world -- the most important thing is to unite against them and drive them off, deplore them of their chances of getting power here in the world.

PS: I thought civilization could only be accounted for the last eight thousand years. Prior to that, we ran around in the wilderness and hunted stuff, and even earlier, it is my belief that we were monkying around (in the literal sense) in Rift Valley -- the location most anthropaleontologists agree on as to where the the first humans (Homo sapiens) looked up on the sun.

We've been killing each other since we swam around in the fucking Pre-Cambrian oceans. Killing is the one art we've perfected after three and a half billion years of evolutionary change.

 

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