If there’s any lesson we should take from the experiences of the First World War, it’s that war is in no way glorious.
Take for example Clinton Alexander McPhee of the Tisdale area, who would spend six months in the hospital recovering from injuries and the rest of his life dealing with headaches and ringing in his ears, or Clemens Niekamp of the Humboldt area, who’d return from the front infected with lice and ended up getting ulcers and white hair from the war.
Both McPhee and Niekamp answered the call to serve what was at that time their countries: Canada and Germany respectively, but it wasn’t a call that should have been made in the first place.
Let us never forget the First World War became a global conflict because the stupid politicians at the time did nothing to stop it. The great powers though it was a brilliant idea to have arms races where each expended crazy amounts of resources to have bigger and better ships. They created a system of alliances that meant a small conflict could cascade into a much bigger one.
That’s exactly what happened. When a pan-Slavic terrorist shot the heir presumptive to Austria-Hungary, that empire’s reaction was to threaten an invasion of Serbia. Instead up finding a way to cool tensions, Germany supported Austria-Hungary, while the United Kingdom and France supported Russia, which supported Serbia.
Instead of the politicians deciding to slow things down and try to find a peaceful solution, national machismo ended up ruling the day.
The result: 16 million died, empires crumbled and the seeds sown for an ever greater war two decades later. Resources that could have made lives better – and lives that could have made the world better – were wasted because stupid politicians couldn’t swallow their pride.
What scares me is that the First War isn’t the first time humanity has done this global war stuff. A century before that war were the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Fifty years before that was the Seven Years War.
As generations who fought in global wars die off, a new generation comes, forgets all about the waste and starts new wars. We’re now at that point.
It’s up to us as citizens to let our politicians know another global war isn’t acceptable, let alone glorious.