The columns and writings of
Peggy L. Elliott
""  War, What is it Good For? - Entertainment!

The wonderful movie channel, Turner Classic Movies, was running an original trailer for an upcoming film presentation, which went something like this:  "The most entertainment seen on the screen this year!"

The name of the film?  "The Sands of Iwo Jima!"

Entertainment?  Somehow, I think if you were to hunt down the survivors of that horrific WWII battle on a godforsaken Pacific island, "entertaining" was probably not the term they'd have used for describing the experience then, nor the memories thereof now.

It then struck me - What would we do for "entertainment" if we didn't have wars to fall back on?  Just think of all the movies, plays, books, paintings, music, all fields of the performing and visual arts, that are in some way linked to war - getting ready for war, fighting the war, then recovering from and honoring, the war.  Even avoiding the war and protesting the war.  Why, if we didn't have war, we'd have to invent it simply to have something "entertaining" to watch, read or listen to! 

Now, in all fairness, the lion's share of the material presented for our entertainment on the subject of war doesn't make it look very enticing.  Particularly, in more recent times there's been a decided shift to anti-war material, turning away from the myth of battlefield chivalry and the glorification of war that previously held sway.

We can blame this shift on an ongoing spat between the northern and southern sectors of a small Asian country - Viet Nam, to be exact.  For into this fray waded a select group of U.S. "advisors," and by the time thousands upon thousands of our young men were being thrown into that hellhole, the idea of participating in war to prove yourself as a man had lost favor as a viable career option. 

In fact, many who had the opportunity and wherewithal, stayed as far from the service as possible.  And my use of the word "far" is, in fact, to be taken literally, as many of the best and brightest headed north of the border into Canada - and not because they got a sudden hankering for a Molson Golden.

When you stop to really think about it, what would it be like to live in a world in which there'd never been a war?  Where no voices were ever raised in anger, or, if they were, the issues were resolved in a peaceable compromise? 

Without the stimulus of war, would the human race find itself simply existing, mired in a blasé, non-challenged subsistence much like those being "farmed" for fodder and reproductive purposes in "The Time Machine"?  There the above-ground, youthful population was kept uneducated and, virtually, mindless.  After all, if you're to be someone's lunch, best you not know much about it.

Instead of using our vast innate abilities and ingenuity to develop the technology put to use in building machines of war, plans of battle, medical breakthroughs and advancements necessitated by battlefield surgical improvisations, would we have put all of these glorious talents to work bettering the lives of all mankind?  

Would there have been no poverty, no disease, no discouragement to keep us from  pursuing our interests and developing our abilities, whatever they may be?  Would we have thrived and flourished in a world not only color-blind, but appreciative of our differences?

Or did we simply have no choice in the development of our nature?  Mother Nature tends to be a rather violent old broad, is she not?  All life on this planet exists for the ultimate purpose of sustaining the next highest life form on the chain.  Except for the top of the chain.  There’s no life form higher than Homo Sapiens, and there’s the rub.

Mother Nature "blessed" us with two forms of population control.  The first is death brought on by epidemics.  But we have a tendency to somewhat nullify this force by developing cures to the diseases sent to kill us off. 

Which leaves, as the most reliable form of population control for the tip-top of the food chain, the violence bred into us, an instinctive core of insanity that no amount of reason can overthrow or dissuade.  Because we know it’s insane, this behavior; to hate - HATE, not simply dislike, but want wiped off the face of the earth - those who do not believe as we do, look like we do, who call their deity “Allah” and we call ours “God.” 

To go to war to annihilate those who butter their bread on the bottom, while we butter ours on the top.  Dr. Seuss had it dead to right.

Or shall we simply give up the pretense altogether and surrender to a simple world of “Soylent Green?”  Forget all that manufactured "cause-for-war" business - it hasn't fooled anyone for ages now, anyway. 

While we're at it, let's drop that official posturing wherein the government acts like it's really “concerned” about the environment, or putting on the act that it's pushing for proper health care for all who need it regardless ability to pay. 

Just come clean, get honest and simply finish us off - the ultimate population control!  Heck, during this, the Second Bush Reich, thanks to the adroit puppeteering demonstrated by “Crack Shot” Cheney’s adept behind the scenes string-pulling, we are, in fact, well on our way there.

Is there any true hope for us, the human race?  Well, there’s always an answer, isn’t there?  The real question is whether there will be an answer we can - and WANT to - live with?  Or is there a future so violent awaiting us, such creative outlets as the movie, “The Sands of Iwo Jima” does not, indeed, represent a more light-hearted form of “entertainment?”
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© Peggy L. Elliott 2006