My entry to the Commonwealth Essay Competition 2004.
| The sky was gray; an ominous sign that matches well with the black veil of doom that asphyxiates our hopes. Hopes that are shattered every time we hear a gunshot, as evil an omen as the call of crows, and reconstructed each time we find ourselves awake, alive and well, at dawn. We feel despair settling in and like parasites they leech and drain us of our feelings. Happiness and contentment have long fled the rigid confinements we call our memory and no matter how we beg and grovel we can never entice them to return. Fear revels in our minds, a permanent resident that has burrowed into our daily lives, to disappear into the standard monotonousness we call a life. Numbed by suffering, we lead a life so deprived of feelings, sometimes we wonder what is so great about living.
As war takes center stage in the global arena, forcing himself into mass publicity, the people begin to question the legitimacy of our justified acts. We feel frustration when our intentions are befouled and our acts are condemned. We realized the cold, negative effects of war but it is a small price to pay for peace. A double-edged sword that cuts back at humanity, war exacts a toll to be paid in blood but blood well used anyhow. What is so wrong with war? When will war ever be accepted by our society? Why wonâ€™t people see the light of reason, that war is the only solution? How will we stop killings without going to war to stop the killers? Questions and more questions that are left unanswerable, leaving us to puzzle at the accusations flung at us. Answers that they seem to hide from, refusing to face them in fear of the swift retaliation of the cold hard truth. The truth that says we must be cruel to be kind.
We hear the sounds that rend our hearts and claw at our sanity. The sound of guns, the whistling of missiles, the thud of a grenade, and the screams of our people. Like the keening of banshees of old Ireland we hear so much in tales, we cannot shut them out, but to ignore them is unbearable. Sometimes we attempt to cover our ears but then we hear the mutterings of our minds. Mutterings that question our folly in living but turns to wailings when we are able to do nothing except take our own lives. Sometimes we hear the excuses of war, the promises, and predictions but what we really want is to listen to the silence of us, being left alone. We want to hear the cheerful laughter of our children, the humdrum of everyday life and the solid ringing of peace. We hear gunshots and hope it is not aimed at us. We hear missiles falling and hope it is not on us.
War and humans have long shared an unbreakable bond that belies all friendships. War has been revered, worshiped, and loved by ancient civilizations. Ares of the Greeks, Odin of the Vikings and Seth of the Egyptians are just some of the many faces of the personification of war that have been worshipped by great civilizations. Spartans relished the idea of wars and Vikings yearned to fall in battle. The love of war still runs true in our blood but unlike our ancestors, we now know to curb it. War is no longer a sport, something sought and hunted but appropriated as a last resort. Why canâ€™t people understand the need of it? We gave peace a chance but it has failed us. Peace is superficial, something fragile and easily broken. We should not depend so readily on peace. Peace is an illusion, a hope and nothing but a hope to fuel us with false notions.
We smell the war: acrid, sour, putrid, and foul. A miasma that pervades our senses and fuddles our minds, creating an uneasiness that is impossible to shake off. We can feel it contaminating our lungs, our blood, and our minds. The dust that is stirred up by explosions and the stink of rotting flesh has now been accepted and tolerated but still despised. We also smell the foulness of human nature; greed for more lands to call their own, envy of the riches of others and pride that drove the hand to retaliate every blow. We are helpless, trapped in this smog of human vices that has destroyed us. We can do nothing. We smell the smoke of burning houses and pray it is not our own. We smell the stench of dead bodies and hope it is not one of us.
Look at the recent acts of terrorism that has run rampant all over the world. Suicide bombings devastate our lives, car bombs kill scores and nuclear weapons threaten our very existence. Reports all over the world have proven this true. What more do we want? Does it not force us to retaliate in order to protect our own people? Should we close our eyes and hope that the problem will go away peacefully? We must not wait till it happens to our country or us before we take action. We are forced to fight fire with fire and if in the course of fighting someone gets burned, we should not go crying for relief. Woe, should casualties be reported but woe, even more, should we lose our family and our people just because we gave peace a chance. Self-defense is never a crime and in this case, it is the only option. Offense is after all the best defense.
War does nothing to help us but instead cause us suffering. Famine is rife over the lands and food is valued now more than gold. Our stomachs hunger for relief but all we taste are lies and deceit. Fields are left unattended and granaries are destroyed by errant missiles. Water is now even scarcer and what we have has been polluted by dirt and debris. We fear contaminations of chemical warfare. We watch everyday for the signs of our hair dropping or our skin peeling. Should we die, we pray death comes easily, eased of suffering and pain. What more can we do than to hope that the war ends? We drink river water, murky as it is and hope it does not kill us. We taste the bitterness of moldy bread and hope it does last but not our last.
We are trying to protect the innocent but they oppose us. Can they not see that we are only helping? We attempt to break oppression and get accused of oppressing. We bring down tyrants and suddenly we are tyrants too. Suffering of those people can be stopped if we interfere but they resist our interference. They live under squalid conditions, technology-deprived of all the better qualities of living. We are able to introduce to them better living conditions but they must first endure the ravages of war that is freeing them. Emancipation does not come easy and it requires sacrifices. Even in the wake of rebuilding their nation we see pockets of resistance that are adamant to not accepting changes, changes that are for the better. Why are they so stubborn?
They say that war is inevitable. That war is like medicine; bitter but must be taken to cure ailments. They say that somehow they have a social responsibility that needs carrying out. To protect the innocent and help the oppressed are just excuses that they bear as shields around their dubious intentions. We feel robbed of our sovereignty and of our freedom. They hardly care. They do not care. Our children are dying from hunger, our bodies are weakening with disease and our homes are destroyed. We have nothing to call a home anymore and we have no country to call ours. Where are the changes for the better? We are handed empty promises and we are angered. We are suffering and we are dying. Why are they so cruel?
We are misunderstood. Greatly wronged by untrue accusations but we remain true to our words and we will not give up. We have begun something and we will finish it no matter what. We hope they will see the light of reason.
We are ignored. Greatly wronged by evil acts but we remain true to our homeland and we will not give up. We have endured so long and we will live it to the end, no matter what. We hope they will see the light of reason.
We see their country, so poor and plain. They are rich in natural resources but with no means to garner them. It is no wrongdoing to help them.
We see our country, so rich and beautiful. We are rich in culture and we need not other riches. It is wrong for them to invade us.
We are the protectors, the innocent.
We are the victims, the innocent.
Is war ever not justified?
Is war ever justified?