Letter to the Editor

My thoughts on war and peace

When I read reports on the subject of the Thirty Years’ War of 1618/48 in Europe, I ask myself what caused people to beat each other to death, rob each other and burn each other’s houses. I understand that it was different ideas of God and different beliefs about what happened at mass and communion that led people to fight each other. Retrospectively, this is incomprehensible to me.
  History shows that millions of dissenters and unbelievers were killed in the name of God and his truths. This belief in one’s own infallibility has had a fatal effect not only on those who are religious (Jews in the Old Testament, Christians, Muslims, etc.), but also with reference to modern ideologies, Nazis and communists. When I think of the role of the military, Tolstoy comes to mind. In history books, it is not the peaceful people who have won the greatest fame; it is the most successful butchers of men, such as Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great, etc. Napoleon Bonaparte has his grave in the Pantheon.
  Are we, the people of today, any the wiser? Instead of religious truths, we espouse modern principles such as freedom and democracy. We Westerners believe in our Western values, which we want to defend at all costs. These values are comparable to the religious values that led to the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century. We make up only about one tenth of the world’s population, but we are convinced that the whole world should adopt our way of thinking. We do not tolerate that, for example, Russians and Chinese want to live by their own rules. Why do we Westerners have to interfere all over the world, spread our system by force? According to all the rules of war propaganda, once a war gets underway, the parties close their minds to the other side’s arguments and fears. It has often proved effective to demonise the opponent, to make him into a subhuman who will commit any atrocity.
  Those who think further come to this conclusion: Once enough weapons have been delivered, enough damage caused and enough deaths mourned, the opponents of war will sit down together and seek a new beginning. Unless a nuclear war will destroy this hope as well.

Hans Jordi, Braunau (Switzerland)

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