| There are a lot of opinions about war. Some strong, some wavering, but one thing is for sure; they are all different.
Recently, whilst confronting my own varying opinions-it would seem I actually had one, after all this time-I came across a few interesting characters. One, a man who we will call "Sam", was a war veteran himself; for the sake of the article and some sort of brevity, I'll keep which war to myself. As I was sitting in a local coffeehouse, he came in, paid for his coffee, and peered over my shoulder as I clicked through page after page of war related material on my laptop. "You know, I served in a war." I heard a seemingly ancient voice say. I looked up at a smiling, weathered face, and I couldn't help but return the kind grin with a passable smile of my own. "Did you? You must have quite a story." I said, my eyes returning to my screen. Usually, this would've been the part that I would shut off my computer and leave, but my own curiosities got the best of me and I opted to merely close the screen as the gentleman took a seat across from me. "Don't suppose you have the time to listen to an old veteran." He said, more of a statement than a question. I nodded, in spite of myself. "Of course I do. You see, I am doing a bit of research on war." He cocked his head as he took a sip of his coffee, his blue eyes, still youthful, studying mine. "Which one?" he asked. I shook my head, taking a bite of my muffin. "None in particular. I'm studying wars in general." I had to clear my throat a bit as he smirked; I had seen that particular smirk before, on the face of my grandfather, who seemed to use it as a taunt. "Something amusing?" I asked indignantly. He took a sip of his coffee and his eyes met mine once more. "How do you study war in general?" he asked simply. Ah ha, I thought, I know where this is going. I leaned back in my seat, ready for a good conversation that I would most assuredly win. "Well, for starters, all the wars are the same. Same premise, same outcome." I said confidently, taking a sip of my water. He nodded thoughtfully, his own aging frame resting against the back of his chair, as if taking the world in stride. "I see. If you don't mind my asking, what is the premise and outcome of each war, then?" he asked. "Well, the premise is always the same. For starters, the only reason why war is ever started is greediness. All people in the war are involved in their own greed." I paused as I saw him start to shake his head. "Yes?" I queried. "That's just not true. But please, continue. I don't want to interrupt your tirade." he said, a little bit of humor creeping into his voice. Not sure whether to continue or not, I decided just to let it out. "Alright...well...the outcome is definitely unchanging. I mean if you think about it, when was the last time someone actually won? When you think back, who wins? No one. A win is a compromise, when no one dies. Winning should not include the killing of innocent people for a cause that 50 percent of them do not agree with." I paused then, waiting to see if he would speak. No bite. So I continued, fast becoming unsure of myself. "Wasting the time and money of people who keep saying, 'no, we don't agree' just to prove who has the bigger guns. I just believe it's a falsity." Finally finished with my rant, I relaxed in my seat, looking down at the battery light now blinking on my impatient laptop. He cleared his throat and sat up in his seat a bit, setting his coffee cup on the table. "Fair enough, young lady. Now, allow me to debate a bit. First, the premise of each war may be greed on the side of one, but not on the other. Would you call defending one's homeland greediness? I suppose it all comes down to what you gauge as greed. I agree in that greed is somewhat fickle, but not always an attribute of both sides of the war." I paused with him as he took a breath; I felt myself start to sway, though for the life of me, I wasn't trying to. He looked at me expectantly but I waved my hand to show him my interest in the continuance of his thoughts. He nodded. "Look, I know the newer generations have something of a negative outlook on the wars of the past and all that. But I know what I fought for; a country that I loved, that's what." He looked down at his coffee, the steam long dissipated as his memories seemed to flood over him. I leaned forward in my chair and clasped my hands around my own cup, needing the warmth just then. "You've certainly given me something to study." The old man smiled and swirled his coffee a bit, then lifted his eyes to meet mine. In that instant, I saw the wars that the man had seen. I couldn't ask him what it had been like to be there; the intensity of his stare brought every terrible crime and bullet to my own conscious.
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