Beware the Myth of War

Beware the mythic narrative of war. From Chris Hedges:


“If we really saw war, what war does to young minds and bodies, it would be harder to embrace the myth of war. If we had to stand over the mangled corpses of the eight schoolchildren killed in Afghanistan a week ago and listen to the wails of their parents we would not be able to repeat clichés about liberating the women of Afghanistan or bringing freedom to the Afghan people. This is why war is carefully sanitized. This is why we are given war’s perverse and dark thrill but are spared from seeing war’s consequences. The mythic visions of war keep it heroic and entertaining. And the press is as guilty as Hollywood. During the start of the Iraq war, television reports gave us the visceral thrill of force and hid from us the effects of bullets, tank rounds, iron fragmentation bombs and artillery rounds. We tasted a bit of war’s exhilaration, but were protected from seeing what war actually does.

The wounded, the crippled and the dead are, in this great charade, swiftly carted off stage. They are war’s refuse. We do not see them. We do not hear them. They are doomed, like wandering spirits, to float around the edges of our consciousness, ignored, even reviled. The message they tell is too painful for us to hear. We prefer to celebrate ourselves and our nation by imbibing the myth of glory, honor, patriotism and heroism, words that in combat become empty and meaningless. And those whom fate has decreed must face war’s effects often turn and flee.” 

5 thoughts on “Beware the Myth of War

  1. This is why I don’t understand why Star Wars is so popular. Or maybe it explains why it is so popular.

    Thank you for your posts. I find your work encouraging and inspiring.

  2. The writer’s sentiments are undoubtedly correct and human but do not advance us in our understanding of war. It is also correct and human to feel angry when seeing the carnage of ‘your’ side, your friends or relatives. When, in Malawi-Mozambique, my driver was dragged from the car by very young men and shot through the head, I had no idea what side the un-uniformed young men were on, but I’d have gladly killed every one of them. I didn’t. I just drove away because they let me go. I am white, obviously not part of them or their enemies.

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