[April 25, 2021] War is a common condition of humans. In truth, it can be convincingly argued that the history of our human condition is perpetual war. Peace is an aberration. I want to address a comment I hear often … “Given that war is so common, is there glory in war?”
To begin, I want to be clear; war is inherently terrible. The price paid is high. We have all heard the idea that men join the military for the sake of glory. That, I believe is wrong headed. Most of those who join any military in any nation do so for adventure and for the comradery. Glory is the last thing on their minds.
“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.” – William Tecumseh Sherman
We might hear how war in the old days were glorious, usually in the time of knights and chivalry. But those were legends written by people who were not there at the time and only desired to praise some conquering hero. Surely this is not glory.
Does this mean that there was no glory in ridding the world of fascism and imperialism in World War II? Does this mean that there is no glory in an effort to destroy communism – an ideology used to extinguish the lives of more than 100 million in the 20th century? Does this mean that men love war? Does it mean that something that is so common, so ingrained into every culture, and so studied and lionized that we do indeed glorify war?
War’s lure is a fundamental human passion – what the Bible calls the “lust of the eye.”1 War stops time, intensifies experiences, offers endless exotic experiences, provides freedom, removes fear, and provides certainty. War replaces the gritty daily gray areas of daily life with a stark clarity. In war, you know your enemy and who is your friend, and are given means of dealing with both.
Sadly, war is often a necessity to stop evil doers from the enslavement of others and the systematic destruction of other nations. Is there glory in fighting the good fight where evil is destroyed and peoples freed? Perhaps some would make that argument, but not I. Despite its siren’s appeal, there is no glory in war, period.