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The ABCs of war

Posted on March 11, 2014 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Craig Funston

Cousin Reggie, he of Big Toe, Saskatchewan fame, sent me a telegraph the other day. No, that’s not a typo: Reggie is just a little behind the times. Every third word in said communication was “Stop,” but the only person who didn’t stop was Reggie himself.

If you think that’s bad, you should see his velvet bell bottoms.

He went on and on about some infantile alphabet game he thinks he invented. Goes something like this: List all the boys’ names you can think of in alphabetical order; do that again with girls’ name; then sports teams, flowers, cars, and so on. Sounds like someone needs a life.

I countered dearest Reggie with doing the countries of the world in alphabetical order, but this time with a twist. I suggested to him that we list all the countries in the world that are currently at war. “War” as in killing each other, as well as the innocent citizens caught in the crossfire.

Let’s see: A is for Afghanistan, B is for Bali, C is for Central African Republic, E is for El Salvador, G is for Guatemala, I is for Iraq, Iran, and India, M is for Myanmar and Mexico, N is for Niger, S is for Syria and Southern Sudan, U is for Ukraine, Y is for Yemen…

Funny how a little trivial game can erupt into a serious reality check.

It puts a squabble over a fence into perspective, doesn’t it? Mind you, when there is a brawl at an area hockey game, one gets an inkling of what’s happening out there in the real world.

People fight on a big scale (factions within a country) for the same reason that there are schoolyard fisticuffs, why mom and dad bicker, or children argue among themselves. Pride, turf, misunderstanding, and insecurity are some of the factors. But for the most part, people fight at any level because they are self-centred morons. And I may be one of biggest of them all.

Keep in mind that we’re not discussing self-defense here. I have a right to defend my people and family with the appropriate weaponry (tank, no; rifle, yes). I also have a right to defend my neighbour, if he or she is being assaulted wherever and whenever.

Talking things out, of course, is the best ticket to working things out. In a semi-civilized culture such as the United States of America, despite all the horrific flaws in their political system, progress is made through talking, voting, compromising, waiting, lobbying–and talking some more.

Pouting and punching are not options—no matter how tempting it is to some.

If you cannot grasp the atrocities in Syria or Central African Republic, or the senselessness of Russia invading the Ukraine, or the indiscriminate suicide bombings in Iraq and Pakistan, you’re normal. If you can, I suggest you have some issues.

But to try to understand what people do to each other, even under the rules of war (and there are some, you know), just take a step back and look into two jurisdictions close at hand: your home and your heart. And if you think I’m sermonizing, you’re wrong. This is not a pulpit, we are not in church, and I have no mandate to sermonize in a secular column.

However, if what I say sounds like a sermon, it’s only because the source of all right sermons is likewise the source all right solutions–‘nough said.

I get agitated over the bickering that can take place in my own home, but I get alarmed when I feel it in my own heart. Of the millions and billions that have lived on Planet Earth over these past few thousand years, we can speak to a definitive pattern: For starters, we’re all the same underneath, almost all (if not all) our differences are learned (some wags call that “culture”), and we tend to be self-centred.

So when masses of self-centred people of one culture meet up with masses of self-centred people from another culture, it’s not clearly not a family reunion. It’s generally called war, sometimes even genocide.

A little simplistic for you? I agree, but I have put it into a common man’s framework of reference. Next time you get really bugged by what is happening in those ABC’s of world geography, and feel so helpless to do anything, try the following:

Work harder at training your kids to get along and work out their differences peacefully; they could easily become the peacemakers or peace-breakers of tomorrow. And, model it yourself: that’s part of the cost of leadership.

I think even Cousin Reggie would agree.

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