Hey booknerds, we’re finally kickstarting our first session of Book Club!
This week, we will be looking at a few war poetry by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, and tackle some questions about war and its destruction to society.
If you love yourself an intellectual debate, come and join us!
War is often romanticised because people write stories about them after the war. One might say that this only propagates the Lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. But sometimes there is a need to romanticise these stories–for all their unbearable suffering–to make it feel worthwhile.
Through the eyes of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, we are able to see the horrors of the First World War. All written in protest and criticism of the war, we wondered, why couldn’t they have physically protested instead? Why write a poem about it? What sort of change were they hoping to invoke in society with just words?
Protests not only exists for that time only, it merely informs us about what people were unhappy about. We are not able to relate and empathise with the soldiers. However, the written word is able to transcend generations and give us a first-hand experience of the pain and destruction.
War brings out the worst in people. It’s almost as if humans just lose all sense of reasoning. They know it is wrong and yet they still do it because they don’t have to face the consequences of their actions. At least, not yet.
In discussing if all is really fair in love and war, we have come to a general consensus that biological and chemical warfare is a big no. Future generations of people should not be made to pay for the battles of a previous generation. Think about Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. More than 40 years on, the war may be over but the children of Agent Orange live on.
While we can all agree that war is bad, it does not always mean destruction. We looked at the example of human experimentation in Unit 731. Completely unethical, and yet advancements in science were made. Eventually, it all boils down to what do we value? Do the positive outcomes outweigh the negative? Are the loss of lives worth it? Is the destabilisation in society worth it? Is anything worth it?
Surely there must be a better way to handle political disagreements… We posited the idea of having political leaders fight it out in a wrestling ring or a private island. Hahaha! Jokes aside, here’s a thought: after every war, we conclude that war is bad and it should not happen again. But it always does. Why is that so?
Maybe we’re still learning. Then again, maybe we never learnt at all.