Why do we never learn this lesson?

German prisoners helping to carry wounded British soldiers back to their trenches  1916 after an attack near Ginchy during the Battle of the Somme

German prisoners helping to carry wounded British soldiers back to their trenches 1916 after an attack near Ginchy during the Battle of the Somme

First published in Letters by

AS WE all must know, 2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, a war erroneously called “the war to end all wars”.

What many may not know is that since the end of this horrific conflict there have been more than 130 wars, not including those currently raging in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa.

Regardless of the reason for it, the First World War was an abomination. Few families didn’t lose husbands or sons, many in their teens.

Along with his regiment, my great-grandfather was blown to pieces on Hill 60 in the first battle of Ypres. Yet, we so-called intelligent humans, still refuse to learn the lessons of history and continue fighting and killing one another.

I would like to urge everyone everywhere to think twice before entering into any kind of conflict, justified or otherwise, but knowing human nature like I do, I know I would only be wasting my time.

John Ward, Pinfold Terrace, Tollerton, York.

Comments (5)

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3:04pm Wed 6 Aug 14

gwen4me says...

You`re not wasting your time John, I was about to launch an assault on Luxembourg but after reading your letter I have now changed my mind.
You`re not wasting your time John, I was about to launch an assault on Luxembourg but after reading your letter I have now changed my mind. gwen4me
  • Score: 1

6:16pm Wed 6 Aug 14

Seadog says...

We don't learn from history precisely because it IS history.

Thanks to the way history has been taught for centuries (oops - I'm straying into the realms of "historiography" now, but it can't be helped!) most of us simply can't our heads round the fact that what we now call history was simply "modern"; "the present"; "contemporary" or "the here and now" for the people who experienced it.

This has lead us to believe we "know better" than our predecessors. Or perhaps it has goaded us into wanting to "do better" than our predecessors.

Take Hitler's assault on Russia: common sense might have dictated that it was bound to fail in view of Napoleon's catastrophic humiliation 130 years earlier. Oh no! Hitler thought he was bound to succeed because he was Mr 20th century German Superman as opposed to Mr 19th century French Superman .

We will only learn from history when we finally come to accept that - in spite of whatever new technology we may have at our disposal - we are no more intelligent/humane/e
nlightened than we have been at any point since we learnt to walk on two feet and make tools ... or indeed weapons!
We don't learn from history precisely because it IS history. Thanks to the way history has been taught for centuries (oops - I'm straying into the realms of "historiography" now, but it can't be helped!) most of us simply can't our heads round the fact that what we now call history was simply "modern"; "the present"; "contemporary" or "the here and now" for the people who experienced it. This has lead us to believe we "know better" than our predecessors. Or perhaps it has goaded us into wanting to "do better" than our predecessors. Take Hitler's assault on Russia: common sense might have dictated that it was bound to fail in view of Napoleon's catastrophic humiliation 130 years earlier. Oh no! Hitler thought he was bound to succeed because he was Mr 20th century German Superman as opposed to Mr 19th century French Superman . We will only learn from history when we finally come to accept that - in spite of whatever new technology we may have at our disposal - we are no more intelligent/humane/e nlightened than we have been at any point since we learnt to walk on two feet and make tools ... or indeed weapons! Seadog
  • Score: 5

6:19pm Wed 6 Aug 14

Ragnar says...

I'll tell you why we never learn, never mind the stupid answer from gwen4me.........poli
ticians....and right-wing media.

You may notice that its young people who make up the armed forces. Young people are susceptible to tales of heroism and they are full of testosterone, even the girls these days. And so it's easy to talk of nationalism, patriotism and the enemy is a nation of baby eaters or rubbish soldiers and cowards.
Politicians feed on this and cause wars because they or their offspring rarely go and die for their country.
They don't even realise that the worst thing anyone can do is take the life of another human....you can not take any more from him.
You may steel a man's wife, you may take his children, you may steel his home, his possessions at any time, but take his life and you have taken everything he possesses....you have also stolen form his wife and his children. He can never be replaced.
However, certain news papers call our military, heroes and give the impression that what they do is good.
I could go on but won't. No I'm not some wishy washy liberal, but I've been there, done it and as the saying goes, got the tee-shirt.
However, I think William Tecumsa Sherman put it best......We just love war.
I'll tell you why we never learn, never mind the stupid answer from gwen4me.........poli ticians....and right-wing media. You may notice that its young people who make up the armed forces. Young people are susceptible to tales of heroism and they are full of testosterone, even the girls these days. And so it's easy to talk of nationalism, patriotism and the enemy is a nation of baby eaters or rubbish soldiers and cowards. Politicians feed on this and cause wars because they or their offspring rarely go and die for their country. They don't even realise that the worst thing anyone can do is take the life of another human....you can not take any more from him. You may steel a man's wife, you may take his children, you may steel his home, his possessions at any time, but take his life and you have taken everything he possesses....you have also stolen form his wife and his children. He can never be replaced. However, certain news papers call our military, heroes and give the impression that what they do is good. I could go on but won't. No I'm not some wishy washy liberal, but I've been there, done it and as the saying goes, got the tee-shirt. However, I think William Tecumsa Sherman put it best......We just love war. Ragnar
  • Score: 6

6:28pm Wed 6 Aug 14

Seadog says...

Sorry - a couple of typos! Please insert "get" into line four and readjust the spacing in the final paragraph!
Sorry - a couple of typos! Please insert "get" into line four and readjust the spacing in the final paragraph! Seadog
  • Score: -2

8:22am Thu 7 Aug 14

Davidka says...

It is only a thin layer of 'civilisation' which covers us all. I still get a lump in the throat when I listen to John Lennon's Imagine.
It is only a thin layer of 'civilisation' which covers us all. I still get a lump in the throat when I listen to John Lennon's Imagine. Davidka
  • Score: -1

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