3 unpopular opinions on the war in Ukraine
It’s safe to say that a child’s reaction to this article would be “duh, obviously”and find it not worth writing or reading for that matter.
But in the adult world, I am ashamed to expose the obvious. Amongst adults, shared beliefs invite us to protect details that do not exist in order to overlook those that do exist.
1. National boundaries are not worth dying for.
Boundaries change all the time. When I studied for the History of the Soviet Union exam in university, I literally got headaches from trying to recall all of the changes done to Ukrainian territory — through which Russia, then called Kievan Rus’, was born. The dominant culture comes and goes, today a majority dominates, tomorrow a minority will dominate, someone will have to bend, bullies will always exist. Is it so damn tragic to “lose” a language or a culture? Everything mutates, nothing dissipates. The nation-state you glorify today was born from the rewriting of history by a minority that once imposed itself violently on a majority. If Hitler had won World War II we would probably be living in a united Europe, free to send arms into conflict on behalf of the entire continent, while being economically dominated by Germany. Oh, wait a minute…
Is it worth crying and stamping our feet over a language we no longer speak? Dead languages live on through other languages anyways. Cultures and languages often evolve naturally, without violence. I even notice this when translating a presentation from English to Italian for my clients — all business terms remain unchanged.
I don’t see anyone in despair over the fact that the Neanderthals disappeared. Oh and by the way, they haven’t disappeared: 1–2% of Neanderthal DNA survives in today’s Europeans.
Your name is Titus. You live in 250 A.D. in Rome and the barbarians are coming. You decide to be a hero so your wife, whom you always knew was too beautiful to really love you, thinks you’re cool. You go off to fight. You die like a sucker. Your wife gets involved with a barbarian (hotter than you), everything you believed in is gone, and now, you’re also dead.
Your name is Publius. You live in 250 A.D. in Rome and the barbarians are coming. You decide to be a rebel and run away with your family as the armies arrive from the north. You communicate your decision to your wife, whom you have always thought too beautiful to really love you. You worry about her reaction but much to your surprise, she tells you that you are the only man with a brain she ever met, and runs away with you. Your fellow idiot — citizens die and everything they believed in along with them. You, however, stay alive with your hot Roman wife and the things you believe in.
The other day I read some comments online written by people glorifying a woman who died in battle. She was portrayed through an image of her holding a gun. She was also a mother of six. I would have glorified that woman only if she had escaped.
2. Anyone who shoots another human being is a murderer.
Only a fool could glorify a frightened, crying 20-year-old boy who goes out to war and shoots other frightened 20-year-old boys in order to “defend” imaginary borders or his family which is safe and sound somewhere far away. “Glory to he who shoots a man because he’s got a different colored uniform” sounds just as stupid as the promised virgins to those terrorists who blow themselves up.
Here is a woman’s opinion: A human being, almost like magic, begins to exist from one day to the other. At about the fourth month of pregnancy, we start to feel him moving inside our bellies, flapping his wings like a little angel that appeared out of nowhere. By month 9, he comes out to the light and gives us the greatest pain and most invincible joy, and when we see this beautiful human being, we see a part of the divine. And for this part of the diving, we would be willing to sacrifice just about everything. Fast forward thirty years, our angel is being manipulated through promises of earthly goods and sent out by some imbecile politician to fight and crawl in the snow. Our angel crosses paths with another soldier who believes in a strong culture, a homeland, and borders (for fuck’s sake, Igor, your so-called borders have only existed since 1991). A soldier who, should he have lived in the Middle Ages, with such harebrained ideas, would have been thought a fool. He does not recognize anything sacred in him. Bang! Our human being is no longer God, but a pile of bones flesh and blood. Whoever extinguished his light and turned him into this is a murderer, and there’s nothing else to it.
3. War is just a matter of convenience
I once asked an important general why he had killed so many people. His answer was not “to defend my ideals of democracy and freedom” but literally “The stars pinned to my chest are like a public extension of my penis.”
Every war in history has been justified by the ideals and visions of leaders who were always careful never to get their hands dirty and who sent others ahead to die for them, while in their hearts resided only their greed for more power, more women, more resources, more hair on their heads, and a longer penis.
This is what the Christians, the Sunnis, the Ostrogoths, the Vietnamese, the warlords, were sent to die for by their much-admired leaders. And those who have been sent into the meat grinder fell into the trap of social pressure, through their own compelling need for recognition and bullets in the head for all those who tried to escape the massacre. War is always only a matter of convenience for some and there is no damn glory in that.
My three points will probably offend people, yet I am sure they already exist in the hearts of many others who dare not speak them. I say this because I know that the wise child who can see reality clearly is alive inside each of us, and often, when reading the news in the papers, he finds himself crying out loud.
Tell people that war is an evil, and they will laugh; for who does not know it? Tell them that patriotism is an evil, and most of them will agree, but with a reservation. “Yes,” they will say, “wrong patriotism is an evil; but there is another kind, the kind we hold.” But just what this good patriotism is, no one explains.
Incredible books that inspired my thinking:
- A terrible love for war | James Hillmann
- War and peace | Lev Tolstoj
- A farewell to arms | Ernest Hemingway
- Pilote de guerre | Antoine de Saint Exupéry
- Letters against the war | Tiziano Terzani
- Ghosts: Despatch from Cambogia | Tiziano Terzani
- The Histories | Herodotus
- Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst | Robert M. Sapolsky