Uncovering the Meaning of War

People often use the statement, “This means war.” But really, what is war all about? That’s something I’ve been wondering about for quite a long period of time. In the dictionary, it says that war is a period of usually open and declared armed fighting between states or nations or it is a struggle between opposing forces for a particular end. I asked a few people what they think is the meaning of war and here are some of their answers: war is the result of hatred and greed; it is a situation that imposes punishment; it is a situation that results to pain and trauma; and it is always man-made or initiated by man. Let’s look back to the first idea. War is the result of hatred and greed. This, I can certainly agree on. Take a look at World War I; it started due to the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which was because most people didn’t like him very well. World War II was a result of Germany’s unprovoked attack on Poland and Japan’s greed; the Japanese wanted more territories and conquered many countries just to attain this goal. Because of this, the Allied Forces—which included the U.S., Great Britain, Russia, France, Poland and other countries—attacked Japan (and also Germany and Italy). A conflict between two people could be because they hate each other or because one of them wants something that the other has. The second idea is that war is a situation that imposes punishment. An example to expound or further explain this idea is when two people are in an argument or fight and one of them punishes the other for whatever wrong that he or she did so that that person would learn from the wrong doing that he or she committed. The third idea is that war is a situation that results to pain and trauma. Now, I’m going to tell the story of my lola Lily about her experience during World War II, which my mother told me about. My mother told me that my lola Lily remembered the World War II, although not completely but vividly, maybe because of the trauma caused by the war. Lola Lily recalled when she was just 6 years old, in the town of Baliwasan, Zamboanga City, maybe in 1944 or 1945, Japanese forces entered my great grandfather’s compound along Mango road. She recalled that she and her three other siblings ran behind my great grandparents who fearfully met the Japanese officials. The leader of the Japanese army interviewed her father and found out that he was a civil engineer. After much conversations, my lola Lily knew that they were all safe in exchange for the service that the soldiers asked of my lola’s father. My great grandfather was tasked to assemble and make equipments needed by the Japanese soldiers. He was promised that he and his whole family will not be harmed and will be provided with food, clothing and other necessities as long as he will do what they ask of him, such as production of tools and other equipments needed by the soldiers. My lola Lily remembered that her father would make gang planks for boats, knives, and needles. My lola Lily also told my mother that any Filipino seen trying to put up resistance against the Japanese were tortured and beheaded. She narrated too that she and her siblings were provided with good food and were treated well. Lola remembered that when she was seven years old, the Japanese army left her father’s compound. There is pain and suffering during times of war that could leave people traumatized, just like what happened to my lola and her family, considering the experience they went through during World War II. And finally, the last idea that was said is that war is always initiated by man. It is always man who chooses to wage war. A certain person told me that God is the one who lets wars begin. No. That is not the case. God allows wars to happen but it is always man who starts the wars. As stated above, World War I and II were started because of the doings of man; the assasination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the unprovoked attack of the Germans on the Polish. Different cases such as a fight between friends, an argument between a parent and child, and a feud between families are also some examples that could justify the last idea that was given to me about war. All these instances just show that man by nature is never satisfied. When you are in a fight or argument perhaps, there is always the feeling that you do not want to surrender so easily and you want to keep fighting or arguing back at the person who is going against you. And I’ll say it again; man by nature is never satisfied.

War is seen by different people through different perspectives and here are a few of those perspectives: war to a soldier is a way of life; war to a doctor means casualties and injuries; war in a child’s eyes is a nightmare; and war to a religious person is a battle against the devil. War to a soldier is a way of life because it is a soldier’s job or duty to participate in wars. It is his or her way of living or livelihood. They could be doing it for the money or they could be doing it for the good of their fellow people, but either way, it just goes to show that that is how they earn for a living; it is a way of life. War for a doctor means casualties and injuries because like I said, it results to pain and doctors are those who could treat and mend pain. Whether it is emotional or physical, war always inflicts pain that is a result of injuries and casualties that doctors work and live to treat and heal. War in a child’s eyes is a nightmare because children are fragile and usually lack understanding of life in an adult world and war is something that could have many negative effects on them and their fragile selves. Children usually do not know how to handle themselves during situations like wars and end up losing themselves and their lives. Lastly, war to a religious person is a battle against the devil. Usually, a war is a conflict between good and evil. To a religious person, war is a battle between God and His followers against Satan. It is a conflict between good and evil, and in the end, the one who is left standing should be the good side. That’s just how it is to a religious person. War is something done to overcome the devil and his evil doings.

As the saying goes, “There are no victors in war; there are only losers.” I strongly agree with this saying because it is true; there are really no victors in war. In the end of a war, no matter who is left standing on the battlefield, everyone is a loser. Like in a conflict between two friends, even after the conflict was “won” by one of them, that person is still considered a loser because although he or she was the one left standing after the quarrel, he or she lost his or her friendship with the other person he or she was in a conflict with. After everything, he or she also ended up as a loser. So it just goes to show that although people may think that they have won in a war, they have also lost in one way or another that they may have overlooked or failed to see.

War does not have a specific or definite meaning. I realize this now. It is how we look and react upon it that really matters. War could have as many definitions as possible, but in the end, it is how we choose to react upon it and how we choose to see it that is important.



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