Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

It gets worse. Just about a hundred years ago your great grandad might have been in the army. He was probably a volunteer, persuaded to fight for King & Country. He had no personal animosity towards his opposing counterpart but was brainwashed into hating all Germans. On the 1st of July 1916 he found himself in facing the enemy along with thousands of others. On a given command he climbed out of the trench and advanced into a hail of bullets and shells. At the end of that day almost twenty-thousand of his comrades were dead and just three square miles of territory was gained. Now ask yourself this, why were all those young men, from both sides, prepared to face death or injury? In our book - radicalisation. By the end of the war some ten million military personnel from both sides had lost their lives.

It was supposed to be "The war to end all wars" but just twenty-one years later the Second World War started. Arthur can speak with some authority as he was ten years old on the day the war began. From the age of ten to fifteen (A third of his life!) Wartime conditions were the norm. He quickly came to believe that Germans were bad. In fact "The only good German was a dead German" and we are sure the German equivalent of young Arthur thought the same of English men. We cheered when a German ship was sunk with not a thought of hundreds of young lives lost.

When the Allies invaded Europe on D day, 3,000 young British men were killed and wounded. The total number of casualties that occurred during that operation, from June 6 (the date of D-Day) to August 30 (when German forces retreated across the Seine) was over 425,000 Allied and German troops. This figure includes over 209,000 Allied casualties.

As a fourteen year old Arthur saw cinema newsreels and newspapers, he heard the wireless news and the views of the grown ups around him. The overwhelming reaction was joy at the victories - very little concern at the loss of life. In all, it is estimated that something like 25 million military personnel, from all nations, lost their lives and more than thirty-million civilians. Why do we do it? What or who persuades us? Take a look at the big picture. It seems as though we need someone 'Up there' to make sense of our life. It ranges from Dad to boss; teacher to priest; Prime minister to King and finally a God. 'They' tell us what to do and what to believe and like sheep , we follow the flock.

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