“War… what’s it good for? Absolutely nothing.”

The year was 1965. Barry McGuire had just released an anti war song, “Eve of Destruction,” which opened up with these words:

The Eastern world, it is explodin’

Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’

You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’

You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’?

And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’

But you tell me

Over and over and over again, my friend

How you don’t believe

We’re on the eve of destruction

Now, fifty-eight years later, have the people of the world learned nothing? I was in my teens in the late 60s and early 70s. The Viet Nam War was raging in futility. American soldiers were dying by the thousands and Americans were screaming. And today, not only is Russia fighting Ukraine and Israel fighting Hamas, there are thirty-two other wars going on in our world right now. We had hoped by now we would have learned to be a civilized society.

There were a lot of musicians back then warning us about the insanity of war. Edwin Starr, of Motown fame, sang “War” which you may remember by the lyrics;

War, huh, yeah

What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing, uhh

War, I despise

‘Cause it means destruction of innocent lives

War means tears to thousands of mother’s eyes

When their sons go off to fight

And lose their lives

And who can ever forget John Lennon’s “Imagine”:

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion, too

Imagine all the people

Livin’ life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one

Why do we go to war in the first place? There is terrorist insurgency, political unrest, civil wars, ethnic violence, drug wars, and of course religious wars. Then you can add greed, power, expansionism, and hate and evil. Right now over 200,000 people a year are dying in warring countries, with far too many innocent civilians included in that number.  What in Hell is wrong with us?

We are living in angry times, with little to no light in sight. We have had two World Wars, both dubbed the “War to end all wars”, and still the world spends nearly three trillion dollars a year building up their militaries.

I am old and naive. I bought into the anti-war protest songs of my youth. I thought their messages were strong, poignant, truthful, and believed they would be effective in helping us understand that there must be a better way. I was wrong. We were wrong. The world is wrong.

I recently read a story on Alan Shepard, America’s first astronaut. Years later he was included on a moon mission and witnessed the entirety of Earth out his module window. He said, ”  “I realized up there that our planet is not infinite. It’s fragile. That may not be obvious to a lot of folks, and it’s tough that people are fighting each other here on Earth instead of trying to get together and live on this planet. We look pretty vulnerable in the darkness of space.”

Shepard was right. I can only imagine what his view out that window was, a beautiful blue marble, all alone floating through time, covered with what must look like a thousand ants fighting over a breadcrumb.

Folks, our world population has grown from one billion people in 1800 to eight billion people now, and it continues to grow at about 83 million more people a year. We’ll add nearly another billion people in the next ten years. Our world has enough daunting challenges ahead of us too be wasting our people, our money and our resources fighting over insignificant breadcrumbs instead of focusing on how can provide energy, food, water to all of us stuck here together on Earth. When will we learn?

Bob Dylan gave us a hint in his song, “Blowing in the wind.” He sang”

“Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly

Before they’re forever banned?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind”

Edwin Starr ended his song “War” with this:

It ain’t nothing but a heart-breaker

(War) Friend only to The Undertaker

Oh, war it’s an enemy to all mankind

The thought of war blows my mind

Peace, love and understanding, tell me

Is there no place for them today?

They say we must fight to keep our freedom

But Lord knows there’s got to be a better way

War (whoa), huh (oh Lord)

What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing.

Civilized can be described as “an advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been reached. Do we live in a civilized world? We weren’t right about everything in the 60s and 70s, but we were right about one thing. Our world needs a whole lot more of peace and love. How long until we become “civilized?” Share your thoughts with me at gregawtry@awtry.com

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