Running head: HITORICAL WARS 1
HISTORICAL WARS 6
Should Historical Wars Be Remembered?
Most countries across the world have experienced war either through direct involvement or indirectly by experiencing the effects of war. The Great War, for example, affected many nations. Wars impact the lives of people, friends and families which makes it a critical society problem (Scarre, 2014). Soldiers die at the battlefield while protecting their countries from insurgents. Wars occur due to various reasons including the current war against terrorism that has been going on for ages in the Middle East. Historical wars like other wars result in the deaths of soldiers as well as innocent people which is why it is important to remember historical wars because they represent a crucial course in the life of nation and its people.
While most philosophers and authors have written several books and articles on war, little thought has been given to the issue of remembrance. Many countries across the world have designated days within the yearly calendar that are reserved for commemorating historical wars. Some of the historical wars, despite having resulted in untold damages and the death of several people, are interesting to learn about (Seixas, 1994). The deprave tales of the Nazi empire, for instance, is one historical war that has been written about by many authors and while the fascination may not be reason enough to establish society-wide remembrances, it is important that we remember such occurrences so that societies can appreciate what their soldiers have gone through and significance of peace. The following are some of reasons why societies should remember historical wars.
Gratitude and bonds of citizenship
It is important to pay the debts of gratitude owed to the soldiers who died in wars while protecting their countries, the way of life of their people and the values that guide their livelihood. Soldiers should be appreciated for the sacrifices they make in ensuring they protect their nations. It is equally imperative to be cognizant of the fact that certain wars that have been fought have been profoundly unjust and such wars do not deserve gratitude as the reason for commemoration (Isdale, 2017). The Vietnam War, for example, is a case in point of war that was unjust since it was merely an incursion which was intended to raise money for the Military Industrial Complex. For wars that positively changed the lives of people, the least we can do is to celebrate the heroes who died and those who participated in ensuring we have the life we enjoy today. The Battle of Hastings are one of those historical wars that deserve such gratitude and remembrance (Assman, 2012). Commemorations helps in strengthening the bonds of citizenship as it brings people together hence enabling collective reflection on those past aspects that are considered laudable.
Remembrance enables people to realize cosmopolitan values
Cecile Fabre in her book, Cosmopolitan Peace, argues that the rights and duties that we have as individuals surpasses in importance national borders and political communities. According to Cecile, remembering historical wars is justified when it makes people to realize the cosmopolitan values that are intrinsic to societies. Wars that are worth remembrance are those that help people recognize the universal moral significance of humanity and wars such as the Holocaust can be used to realize cosmopolitan values (Isdale, 2017). Similarly, remembering historical wars helps societies to avoid conflicts in future by brightening the darker aspects of human nature. Wars reflect the worst of us as it depicts the ill, we are capable of doing to others. Not remembering historical wars keeps us oblivious of our capabilities to do wrong. The Scottish philosopher, David Hume argues that, the primary use of historical study is to realize the constant and common principles of human nature.
Keeping human nature in check
Historical wars depict the true nature human beings and their capability to exacerbate conflicts. Learning the lessons of war, therefore, plays a vital role in shaping the thoughts and inclinations of people especially when it concerns matters of war. The understanding of historical wars reminds us of why we get into wars, the reasons we use to keep fighting and how we justify cruelty and the destruction we visit on others (Isdale, 2017). The consequence of war is critical in humanizing the past as they influence our empathetic instincts hence keeping people in check of the moral tragedy of war.
According to Theodor Adorno, human beings have become cleverer with little wisdom, pointing to the advancements of weapons from spears to the modern-day missiles and nukes. Whereas the destructive power has significantly increased over the years, human nature has not changed (Isdale, 2017). This is why remembering historical wars helps to keep our psychological inclinations in check since by understanding our capabilities to fuel conflicts, we can avoid wars, especially when they are unjustified.
Appreciating our heroes and reflecting on our enemies
As we reflect upon the depravity caused by wars, it is also important to keep in mind that some wars were morally justified despite the horrifying consequences such wars caused. John Stuart argues that in spite of the ugly nature of war, it is not the ugliest of things on the planet. He says that the moral mentality and feelings of patriotism that portrays war as worthless is worse than war itself. That in a world of justice and injustice, human beings must be willing, when need be, to fight for the higher good (Assman, 2012). Basil Liddell-Hart, a military historian, once remarked that war is a necessary evil that occurs in the hope that good shall triumph. Therefore, it is imperative that we appreciate the efforts of our soldiers and the dead heroes who took part in ensuring we enjoy the higher good while also remaining cognizant of the horrifying consequence of historical wars as a life lesson to prevent us from future conflicts (Isdale, 2017).
The question of whether historical wars should be remembered lies in understanding broader concept of war and why they happen. Besides the tormenting consequences of war, some historical wars were critical in ensuring the peace we have today and the moral values we uphold in our societies. Remembering such wars should help us recognize the efforts of our soldiers and bring us together in the spirit of patriotism. Historical wars should also be remembered to help keep human nature in check while also appreciating the influence of such wars in building cosmopolitan values
Isdale W., (2017). Why remembering wars is a moral concern for all of us. Retrieved from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-20/why-remembering-wars-is-a-moral-concern-for-all-of-us/8819476 on 9/15/19
Assmann, A. (2012). To remember or to forget: Which way out of a shared history of violence?. In Memory and political change (pp. 53-71). Palgrave Macmillan, London.
Scarre, G., (2014). Lest we forget: How and why we should remember the Great War. Durham University, United Kingdom
Seixas, P. (1994). Students’ understanding of historical significance. Theory & Research in Social Education, 22(3), 281-304.