Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pen Meets Paper Nov.9'09

Opinion by Helge Nome
This week, beginning on November 8, we once again remember those that lost their lives in wars past. The 11th hour of November 11 is the time when many Canadians observe one minute of silence as a sign of respect for fallen soldiers. It has become a ritual that is observed across the nation.

The question that comes to mind is: What is it exactly that we commemorate? Is it the valor and self sacrifice of those that died? The righteousness of our causes? Defending Freedom and Liberty? Or are we effectively celebrating War itself, with all its pomp and circumstance?
Why did the Great War, the war to end all wars, fought between 1914 and 1918, simply spawn more wars? Why is there seemingly no end to erupting conflicts that end up in gory and brutal slaughter of innocent human beings?
Lifting the veil of history may provide an answer:
Arguably the most famous of all wars is the 9 year siege of the city state of Troy around 1184 BC. immortalized by the Greek poet Homer in his epic “Iliad”. The beautiful Helen had eloped with Prince Paris of Troy, back to his powerful city home. The problem was, Helen, Princess of Sparta, was already married to Menelaus, a Mycean prince who became King of Sparta through his marriage to Helen.
As you can plainly see, Menelaus had no choice but to gather all his allies and lay siege to Troy. “That Woman!” had done him in (or had been kidnapped if you are of a generous mindset). It was a matter of Honor, pure and simple, to bring Helen back home. At least, that is what the poet would have us believe.
Now, I would ask those of you that have computers to google “Hellespont Aegean Sea” at your convenience and the stark geopolitical reality behind the 9 year siege stands out: The city of Troy’s remains have been discovered on the shores of the Hellespont, a narrow strait through which all sea traffic between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea has to pass. And the prosperity of Troy was due to the tolls extracted from ships plowing the trade routes between the two seas. Troy was a pearl in the geopolitical struggle between competing groups of city states.
So what has changed in the last 3000 years? Absolutely nothing: There are two reasons for every war: The popular one, expounded by propagandists of all stripes and colors; and the real one that the combatants discuss among themselves.

On November 11 of every year, should we pick up the courage to draw the curtain aside and look at the stark and ugly realities of war and the millions of meaningless and torturous deaths that were inflicted upon innocent people in order to gain control over territory and resources?

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