Mission Time: Aggression With Weapons [part 1]
Disclaimer: I’ve tried to make this shorter, but I just can’t seem to limit myself. Damnation, really. Oh, and a possibly have grammatical errors because I haven’t proofread this. Damnation, again.
I’ve been going to school for more or less sixteen years now, thirteen years if you exclude kindergarten and preparatory school years (and this one other year of a grade I do not recall as to what its grade level was called anymore).
That’s six years of primary school where they teach you that Magellan “discovered” the Philippines, and that Lapu-Lapu defeated him in some grand battle of proportions that were supposedly epic. Six years of primary school taught me that after Lapu-Lapu vanquished the Portuguese explorer, the people of the Philippines eventually fell into the hands of Spanish colonizers wherein we were converted to Christianity and were subordinate to them. Six years of primary school devoted class lectures that put the Spanish people in some (ironically) unholy light and made names like Bonifacio, Del Pilar, and the infamous Rizal something to associate with nationalism. Six years of primary school educated me to think like this about our country’s history: 1. colonizers and oppressors suck because they used force to gain control of our country which was doing just fine without them, and 2. our heroes are awesome because they fought for our country’s freedom which we eventually “gained”.
My impression of war after primary school was that it was a terrible thing because a lot of people die in the process of war. You read in the history books about the number of deaths that happen and it doesn’t faze you as something to be depressed over but just something terrible to know those people died because of two parties which didn’t see eye-to-eye and had weapons and used them. These people were numbers though, so the most I could give was a “shiiiit, that’s a lot of people that died during that time” impression about it all. It didn’t really occur to me during primary school about how ironic it was that the only way to gain freedom was to fight fire with fire. Fire versus fire, violence just breeds more violence, it’s funny considering how in pre-school you already learn that in order to put out a fire you use water and if that’s the case then all we need to do is figure out what water is.
Then there were the four years of secondary school that taught me about world history. That’s one year of re-discussing Philippine History except more in-depth, with emphasis to the non-violent rebellion against the Spanish via writing. The year preceding that focused on Asian history and this was when I learned that wars were waged because people needed territory since more territory meant more space for the people of your country to live in, and more space also meant more resources that came with that space, and more resources equalled more stuff to be created with said resources and so on and so forth. Third year high school was by far the best history class experience I ever had. This was the year I was told that colonizing was the search for “god, glory, and gold” and that spices were goddamn important, as well as mapping out trade routes. This was also the year wherein we tackled ancient Greek and Roman history (which was awesome because I read too much Greek mythology and loved Athena too much not to be psyched about it), and that military planning and strategy was discussed. Wars were also waged out of pride, a nation’s pride to be exact. Third year history class also got me psyched about discussing the World Wars. Franz Ferdinand, Otto von Bismarck, Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin were already familiar names to me and the thought of learning about these people and the era they lived and fought in in-depth and all got me excited. Sadly, it was my dismay to learn that we barely even touched World War II because it was too long and my classmates were too much of a nuisance to allow us to finish the lessons in time with the assessment plan. Curses, says the nerdy girl who sits in the back of the class and likes history. Fourth year high school was lame because Social Studies class (which taught history for three years) was focused on economics (no offense people who like it/get it, but it’s as boring as attending a symposium about the wonders of paint thinners).
My idea of war was a bit more colourful. Okay, I get it, war is very normal. Whenever two countries don’t agree on something, whenever one country has some leader with a crazed mindset who banks on the idea of vendetta, or whenever you just need to take over another country for the sake of looking powerful, then war makes sense. By this time I thought the idea of war was pretty awesome in terms of the uniforms, the artillery, the uniforms, the fighter jets, the tactics, the uniforms, the alliance-systems, and did I mention those sweet, sweet uniforms (to be more specific, Nazi Germany soldier and Gestapo officer ones)? Then again, this was just me being so engrossed and overwhelmed by how cool violence kind of is. My theory: years of violent cartoons, rock n’ roll music and videos, and watching Fight Club and getting into Chuck Palahniuk books warps your idea as to what’s good and what’s bad (but then again, I don’t believe there really is a universal of that anymore).
Currently in my third year of college, and what’s changed since my previous years have been a lot of things. For the first year and a half of my college experience I was re-introduced to old high school lessons except I was told things from a much broader, objective, and less “nationalism is important and therefore you must reek of it to the grave!” to it all. I already grew out of the “war is pretty cool” phase, not to say that the World Wars weren’t cool, they still are to me, it’s just that by this time the whole concept and idea of war has gone from something highly exalted to something I pretty much fear and dislike.
War is scary. Those number of deaths you read about, well it took me until college to finally realize that those numbers represent people, and these people died because of guns, bombs, gases, sickness, disease, but ultimately because of other people. People killed people and that’s some deep, heavy, and scary shit right there because when a war occurs this is when people are allowed to do so. People are authorized to kill other people in times of war, even my mother would agree. “The only time its okay to kill another living person is either in self-defence if the person is trying to kill you, or in times of war.” I was probably in elementary when she told me this, and I was kind of confused because I figured that those two scenarios were the same. Isn’t it that in a war, people try to kill other people? Well, I’m older and (not wiser, that sounds too cliché and too arrogant for me to put it as such) I’ve done a lot more thinking with a lot more material and experience to work with and a lot more events have transpired since then, and no, war doesn’t necessarily mean that people try to kill other people in order to defend themselves. War can be a lot scarier.
What happened in EUROCIR class last meeting was that we differentiated wars of the yesteryears to the wars of this contemporary time and age. Even in the assigned reading, the difference was made clear. Wars of today are a whole lot scarier.
We were taught for most of our lives by the educational system that wars are fought between good and evil, and more often than not, the good guys win, because that’s what history is, the stories of the winners. However, now we’re taught to look at things differently. We’re taught to question things, to be more open-minded about issues and situations and events. Suddenly war isn’t about good versus evil, it’s about one party with another, about one belief with an opposing one and who’s to say it’s really wrong to either of them?
Wars back then had such simple goals when I think about it now: territory, resources, power through more territory and resources. Wars back then were normally fought my armies on specified battlefields, by people in uniforms and at the most it should only be those people who get harmed. Now things are different, the world is all mapped out and there is nowhere to hide and there is some world order trying to come into place but when people may not believe it they can retaliate and war is an option for some. What exactly are the goals of the wars of today? Power can still be considered as a reason, but today we can even consider just wanting a change in the system, to change how things are as a reason. What exactly is the end result of that? How do you know if you’ve achieved that? It’s scary, people and their relationship with violence. It’s scary when people believe in something so deeply that they want change and the only way they see it happening is when they must resort of violence. And when people do that, then other people who get affected by their violence think that the best way to deal with them is by fighting back as well, and then you get a war. Here I was thinking that liberalism and idealism was flourishing in today’s world, but knowing that there are still wars going on and that the magnitude of the damage it can bring is so high in comparison to 1916 makes me doubt mankind and their love for life.
What’s more valuable, your life or your beliefs? The level of relevance and weight of this question is perhaps one of the biggest differences I see when comparing wars of the then with wars of the now. Sure, I can still say that wars are still carried out by two opposing factions, and I can still say they are similar in the sense they use weapons. Be that as it may, I can say that the objectives have gotten less objective and more subjective, subjective in a sense that the end goal of the war isn’t something completely tangible like land or money (That isn’t to say that wars for land and money, or rather, resources, aren’t happening anymore).
War is an option for anyone and everyone and anywhere and everywhere could be a battlefield, or at least that’s the impression I’m getting from the world nowadays. I hope the world proves me wrong on this judgement, I really do, that or that we can go back to kind of good ol’ wars (haha) like that of the late 1930s…except without the nukes on civilians, or without the nukes at all.