The Anatomy of War

A few years ago my family attended a Civil War Reenactment at the request of some friends. My dad used to be in it before we moved, but we hadn’t really done anything recently. My brother was delighted after our friends outfitted him in costume and asked him to fight in the mock battle. All in all it was a great deal of fun.

Today I was looking at the pictures from said reenactment and I wondered what idiot thought war was a good way to settle anything.  Here we have two groups of about twenty men, with no personal quarrel, marching towards each other with intent to kill or be killed. This makes sense how?

War didn’t start that way. War started with one person wanting something from another person. So he gets his bullies together and they go and take it, and the victims can’t do anything against this “army.” So the person in charge of the victims decides not to let this happen, so he gets together his own army of defenders. So when the bullies show up ready to take what they want by force someone else of equal strength is there to meet them and they fight it out.

So then the leader of the defenders says, why wait for them to come to us? Let’s go meet them on the road and ambush them! It’ll be easier! So they all march out, and ambush the bullying army. And the before you know it we’re building bigger armies and it becomes a huge complicated maneuvering chess game where people go sneaking around in the woods to kill other people with whom they have no quarrel for a cause they can no longer remember.

A very good example of a logical premise taken way too far.

An outside observer watching the reenactment of this battle would have been at a complete loss. In order for any fight to make sense it works best if you have a woman, tied to a tree, screaming. And a dragon ready to eat her.

Fighting to free slaves might sound like a noble cause in your head but what does traipsing around in the woods shooting at people do to help? If you really want to help slaves do like the Quakers did and help the underground railroad. Go in undercover and smuggle them out. Or buy them from their masters and set them free.  Much more effective, and much less people die.

Fighting to save the union sounds like a noble cause, but going around destroying it doesn’t sound like a good solution! Shooting the people you’re trying to save is idiocy. It’s like Solomon and the baby all over again. If we can’t have it, then nobody will.

When wars get so big that there isn’t something tangible at risk then we’ve stepped over a line that was never meant to be crossed. If there isn’t something immediately behind you worth defending then how do you know that you’re defending anything at all? And so while going out to ambush the raiders might sound like the best idea is it worth sacrificing your principles for an easy victory? Because once you take that step away from home, once you go out and kill for the sake of defeating the enemy rather then protecting your homes, then you are on a downward spiral that will lead to the loss of more lives than those you were originally attempting to defend.


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