Wars have no meaning, yet they will go on

Men and women are getting killed in the hundreds all over and the world map is soaked in red

By Asha Iyer Kumar

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An injured Palestinian girl is carried to an ambulance at the site of an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. — Reuters
An injured Palestinian girl is carried to an ambulance at the site of an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. — Reuters

Published: Sun 24 Dec 2023, 9:56 PM

There are different utopian ideas that strike the mind as we traverse this fluidity called life; deliberations that border on ‘wishful thinking’ than on hard facts or data-driven projections. The most recent one has been this – will there be a time when humans will die naturally, owing to age, attrition or accident and not by the deliberate, diabolical intent of fellow human beings? A world where men, women and children are not ‘killed’ but they peter out of existence when ordained by God, smoothly transitioning into whatever awaits them next.

Of course, in the grander scheme of things, any obliteration of life is divine will; but will there be a time when there will no gore spilled, no dismembered bodies scattered, no remains left rotting, nor a wilful murder of man committed?

It doesn’t really matter to dig the past to know where the origins of human proclivity for conflict and contention lie or knowing when men started making slaughter of fellow humans a sport. It serves no purpose to know who set the precedent of death and destruction as a means to settle territorial and political disputes. But the fact remains – conflicts are pursued with relentless hate, hate which drives people out for blood, which in turn generates more vitriol, and the cycle never culminates.

As I said in the beginning, the whole idea of man not killing man is a ridiculous ideal, yet as 2023 comes to a close and greetings for a new year begins to ring in the ear, I wonder – Is it possible to not kill? And, giving that thought a pontifical twist, I think what’s happy in a world after all, where death is dispensed like popcorns and it gets reported as if they are not human lives but pests that have infested a barn?

Men and women are getting killed in the hundreds all over and the world map is soaked in red. As a fellow-human, it is hard for me to see a difference between mass deaths caused by artillery in Ukraine; by gunfire in Israel or Sudan; by bombs in Palestine; or by a maverick shooter in Prague. In each instance, children are orphaned or families torn asunder; in every case, the perpetrators are no better in their intent from each other; in each example, there is no rationalisation, except the instincts of revenge and revulsion that men have fostered for each other in their journey towards mortality. And that’s an irony because mortality is the only guarantee we have in life. Death is a sordid leveller, one that brings all that one had lived and fought for to a nought and to a common place where everyone will be in the end laid.

The preposterousness of it all is hard to crack – will wars ever bring peace? If not, what purpose do they seek to achieve? Is it to keep evil forces that threaten our existence at bay? Is to expand our territories and influence as nations and peoples? Is it to stake a claim and win what is rightfully ours? Or is it merely the only way we now know to settle our differences and get even with those who we think are hampering our lives?

It is devastating to consider even for a moment that peace doesn’t have a chance in this tempestuous world; to think that we can cement our lives only by force and power over another; that a strife-free co-existence is a fantasy meant for the starry-eyed; that people will kill each other in singles and thousands just to substantiate their right to live, and in the process, deny others their place on the planet.

Every warring entity will have its own reason for the bloodshed it perpetrates, directly or collaterally. Every defending force will have its justification for retaliation and revenge. All in the name of ‘right to live with dignity’. If only wars and violence could ensure that in the aftermath of all the blood spilled, those left behind will have lasting peace! If only wars could validate that the mass murders have meaning!

We must all bite the dust and be buried one day, despite everything. Why then are we hastening the process by butchering our own kind? It makes no difference whose life hate purloins; that we have amassed so much malice in our hearts to believe that to be happy, the other man must be slayed is the greatest shame and moral lapse of mankind. Several thousands in the world across warring lands will not have a merry Christmas and New Year. To turn a blind eye to their misery and to the indiscriminate carnages taking place will be a disgrace. To pretend all is well with the world is nothing short of profanity.

Yet to keep traditions alive and to give hope yet another hopeless chance, let the season’s greetings fill the air. Let there be glad tidings in the New Year. May peace become our creed.

(Asha Iyer Kumar is a Dubai-based columnist, author, children’s writing coach and motivational speaker)

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