© Associated Press photo
Fire and smoke rises from burning buildings hit by an Israeli air strike in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 23, 2014.
Mankind failed to learn lessons from horrors of First World War
Not much has changed in the past 100 years when it comes to war and mankind’s failure to move past armed conflict as the preferred solution to problems. Our inhumanity against our fellow man continues and one wonders if we will ever reach a level of civilization where mutual respect, compromise and dialogue are embraced as the only solutions to disputes. The frenzy to “commemorate” the start of the First World War reached a fever pitch in recent days, with Monday marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the war to end all wars. Our patriotic fervor is almost approaching the glorification of war. Instead, the declaration of war on August 4, 1914, should be viewed as a powerful history lesson on how to avoid insane conflicts.
History has shown that the Great War was only the harbinger of even more horror during the Second World War, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam, the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Serbian theatre, Somalia, Iraq, Gaza, Syria, Ukraine, the World Trade Centre, various African nations and the tragic litany continues unabated.
It’s a sad commentary that Canada achieved its so-called coming of age as a nation based on battles in the First World War. The Charlottetown Conference, where the nation was born amid amicable talks around a legislative table seems more of a footnote compared to the gory slaughter at Vimy. Even P.E.I. 2014 Inc. couldn’t resist the temptation to salute the 100th anniversary of the Great War with a public screening of the film “Front Lines.”
It was interesting to see that on the front page of The Charlottetown Guardian on Tuesday, August 4, 1914, a day before war was formally declared, it was already decided to postpone 50th anniversary celebrations planned to commemorate the Charlottetown Conference. Months of planning to celebrate the golden jubilee of the birth of Confederation were halted. There was hope that some kind of celebration might still be held later in the year, but those were dashed as trenches were dug in Europe and artillery barrages slaughtered tens of thousands.
Three first cousins who ruled major European empires in 1914 couldn’t halt the Great War as blunders, stupidity, bureaucratic deceit and misplaced patriotism all contributed to the start of a war which murdered tens of millions of combatants and civilians. The leaders of Russia and America can have a friendly chat on the telephone today but that doesn’t stop a Ukrainian rebel faction from shooting down a civilian jetliner with almost 300 innocent people on board.
Allied soldiers preserved our freedom and democracy in the First World War but they didn’t preserve the peace. No, not much has changed. It’s all happening again and again and again.
The approach of tropical storm Bertha, expected to reach hurricane status as early as today, is understandably making Islanders and visitors nervous. The arrival of post tropical storm Arthur a month ago was not taken as seriously as it should have been. When wind gusts reached more than 110 km/h, with massive power outages, it left many people scrambling to find shelter, wreaked havoc at the Charlottetown Yacht Club and forced postponement of day two of the Cavendish Beach Music Festival. People were amazed that on a sunny, warm day, so much storm damage was being inflicted on this province. Bertha is forecast to remain off the N.S. coast and bring rain to eastern areas of that province Wednesday night into Thursday. We might like to have a good rainfall on P.E.I. but we can sure do without those big winds.