Is it sad that we idolise our heroes of war? Throughout the history of time, war has been heralded as a sign of potential victory, of patriotism, of an inherent yearning for peace. Every achievement held in war has been encouraged and glorified. Each time an enemy is killed, it is always a triumph, a success. There always seems to be a reason for the death of an enemy, like Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, or Hitler. But isn’t one man’s enemy another man’s friend? However grave their crimes, is it right to kill someone’s father, or brother, or childhood sweetheart? By sinking to their level, are we accepting the right to end a life, playing God on our toy thrones?
In the history of Kings, a Man of War was a opportunist, a gallant wager of peace, a pillar of truth. He would be seen as a hope against a world of pain and injustice. Was Queen Elizabeth I right to behead her own cousin? She was never outwardly blamed for her actions, it seems. Historians have made it quite clear how she stuttered over her decision for quite some time before it happened; but in the end she decided it was best for her Crown and Heritage to kill someone of her own blood, a fellow Queen.
We erect monuments everywhere – including inside the walls of the houses of parliament – for the repose of the souls of World War One. A valiant army of men took control of Europe in the bloodiest battle of the 20th Century: hundreds of thousands of British lives were lost…how many lives did they take in order to win their brave campaign? Do we, the British, account for those lives?
What upsets me is not that we do not value life. In the current crisis in the Middle East, for officials of The Islamic State carving off the heads of their people as though they were never human, their value of life is slim. Assad, whoever he says he is, has destroyed the trust that the people of Syria once had for him because he has traded his good ways for the ways of his father. He has killed thousands, as thousands more kill more thousands. What upsets me is not that we fail to be incorrupt and honest. What upsets me, is that whilst we outwardly strive for unity and conciliation, we inwardly maintain the glory we feel when the enemy is exterminated. We cannot be good, we cannot be brave, we cannot be honourable, we cannot be virtuous, or true…if we cannot take responsibility for the lives that have been lost, even if those are the lives that we have judged to be valueless.
Take pity on the valueless, and give them value.