I do not understand war...I don't understand at all why young men go to fight other young men. How to understand the complexities of the politics' behind someone declaring they will be marshalling their troops and claiming back the borders...
If you are a soldier then you are taught to fight...you are taught to fire a gun at your enemy...shown how to disable someone with a knife you carry in your belt...someone older than you will teach you unarmed combat...how to kill without a weapon. You'll go on long route marches carrying a heavy load and learn how to catch and cook a rabbit and to not baulk at eating worms...you'll hunker down in the pouring rain or a bitter wind and keep your gun close at hand.
Then the day comes when you...all of eighteen years old with a Mam and a Dad and two sisters...the day comes when you are face to face with another boy of a similar age...but you can't chat about football or learn which music he likes the most...he is your enemy. He has been taught to kill you...you have been taught to kill him...
Lying in a stinking mud filled trench with rats running over your swollen feet waiting for the order to 'go over the top' listening to the manic giggles of a fellow soldier who is suffering from shellshock...the temptation to smack his face is strong.
Prisoner of the Japanese...forced to work until you drop dead from exhaustion or find yourself nailed to a wooden cross in a parody of Christ's suffering...what will Mam and Dad say when you return with your body and mind broken beyond repair...
Given orders from those in charge...those sitting behind polished desks with a bottle of the finest Whiskey in the filing cabinet...orders to spray vast tracts of fertile land with a deadly poison...because those who live there are your enemy...coming home with your legs gone forever, lost in a jungle to be eaten by animals , or thrown out with the surgical rubbish from a remote field hospital...
Having to live with the sure and certain knowledge your actions caused horrendous birth defects in thousands of unborn children.
Young men go to war all the time...bandanas tied across their faces, posing with foreign weapons bought by governments who ought to know better or by warlords who probably don't but could care less.
It doesn't do to delve deeper into the reasons behind conflict...those reasons are quite mad to us who look on in horror and despair at the loss of life...from those mediaeval battles where the time and the place were pre-arranged and men took the opportunity to show off their skills with the long bow...to the ghastly slaughter of thousands in Glen Coe...to the mindless slaughter of farm boys in the trenches and the pure terror of those caught up in the Second War when countless people were slaughtered at the behest of a mad man and the prisoners' of the Japanese endured the exquisite cruelties they dreamed up...
Maybe our present day wars are worse...sending an unmanned drone missile from the comfort of a seat in front of a bank of computers...not much like facing your enemy with a broad sword in your hand or defying some Japanese officer and finding yourself crucified for your angry words...it isn't like going quite mad from the constant sound of gunfire and the stench of trench foot emanating from your feet until you scream and scream and lose your reason.
Sitting on a comfy chair in front of a computer screen while pressing the right button to direct a lethal drone at an innocent aeroplane because someone higher up in authority tells you to, is the stuff of science fiction is it not...did you join the Army for the responsibility of murdering around three hundred people in one fell swoop...
I have never quite grasped war...never understood weapons of destruction...never come to terms with the innocents who are displaced from their homes and who lose their lives because a person in some hierarchy deems them to be dispensable...never quite come to terms with those in charge who conduct their conflicts behind a safe facade of shiny conference tables and glasses of expensive spring waters...smoked salmon sandwiches for lunch, while a boy lies in the dust with half his face blown away.
Would women be better at keeping the peace in our world...I'm not sure...maybe we'd find kindly solutions or perhaps we'd bitch and squabble and get no further forward...
I loathe these times we live in...I'm frightened about another world war...I dislike seeing news reports of refugees and downed 'planes filled with completely innocent and unknowing people...I do wish I could block it all out and spend my days peering into the river to see if the crayfish are back and admiring the new bright scarlet poppy in bloom...we live in sad and disturbing times.