Monday, May 30, 2016

Words for Memorial Day

Spoken by a twelve-year old Bosnian girl in a refugee camp:

I want that this is the last war in my life.
Spoken by a four-tour Vietnam veteran:
No more fucking wars!
These sentences are the epigraphs to the concluding chapter of Jonathan Shay’s Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character (New York: Touchstone, 1994). Shay writes in this chapter:
In the face of intractable horrors like the dismemberment of Bosnia, an actual permanent end to wars seems like an impossible dream that only a fool would spend any time or money on. War has always been with us, after all. Perhaps it is intrinsic to human nature. I often despair that the array of cultural, economic, and social forces in support of warfare simply are impossible to overcome, ever. However, as William of Occam pointed out in the fourteenth century: What is, is possible.
That is, not necessary. No more war.

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