The late Edwin Starr’s hit 1970 antiwar song made for good protest music but incorrectly answers his own question.
If you’re reading this blog you know war is good for generating endless discussion.
And I mean endless.
According to Chris Hedges’s article in the New York Time (7-6-03), humans
have only been at peace for 268 out of the last 3,400 years of recorded history. He probably missed a few skirmishes in those 268 peaceful years.
That’s a lot of wars.
Those conflicts killed an estimated 150 million to 1 billion people, Hedges writes. That high estimate almost certainly under-represents the actual death toll.
Consider 2 million people alone died in the 1942-43 Stalingrad siege on the Russian front in WW II. And ponder all the graves of unknown warriors from wars past being unearthed almost on a weekly basis around the world.
No one counted them.
When did we start fighting wars? Very early in our history it seems.
The Bible says at the time of Noah the earth was “full of violence.” God destroyed humankind in the flood except for Noah’s family but it didn’t take long after unloading the ark for war to return to recorded history.
Noah’s great-grandson, Nimrod, was called a “mighty warrior” and the Bible lists him as the founder of Assyria. By the way, Nimrod was also responsible for the debacle at the Tower of Babel so I guess no warrior-leader is perfect.
The account in the book of Genesis also introduces readers to another fascinating aspect of war – the role of divine providence.
Whether you’re talking about Yahweh the God of the Bible or some other deity. Humans have always looked to their God or gods for favor in battle.
Australian Biblical scholar and blogger Mike Southon lists 100 wars and battles in the Old Testament as he discusses this issue. He argues God used war to show his power over human events.
Southon’s first “official” battle in the Bible is the account of Abraham’s group of 300 to 400 servants defeating the much larger coalition army of several city-states in the Sodom and Gomorrah region. His ultimate conclusion is that Christians have no place in the world of war.
I’m wondering whether you might disagree with that sentiment.
There are still the clashes of the Biblical end times. The Ezekiel 38 conflict and the battle of Armageddon. The Quran and Islamic prophecies contain their own versions of apocalyptic battles.
Pacifists are not invited to these events.
(You might be able to guess where I stand on this issue.)
In short, war is ingrained in our human condition from the very beginning of recorded history and apparently to the very end.
I don’t know why we’re fascinated with or prone to war. (Any psychologists around to chime in? Maybe it’s more of a question for a theologian.)
While we’re here, we may as well enjoy debating, arguing and fighting (symbolically) over war.
I invite fellow war history buffs to contribute to join in the fray of discussion. As I mentioned above, we have a lot of history to cover not to mention future conflicts so let’s get started.
So, what do you think? War, what is it good for?
(Fair fights only–no cutting off each others heads (symbolically).)