Plato once said: “Only the dead have seen the end of war”.
To be honest, half the wars and conflicts in the modern world are caused because of past conflicts. Those conflicts were caused because of even older conflicts. And those conflicts was caused because some guy accidentally spilled another guy’s milk. In short, revenge and its cousin, hatred, have been used to precipitate conflicts since the first time a caveman hit another caveman with a rock.
Let’s start from the original source of conflict in the human mind: greed. Essentially, person A sees person B with item C. Person A wants item C, and takes it from person B. Person B doesn’t like that, so he punches person A in the schnoz. Person A and B get their buddies; voila, a war has been started.
Now that a brand-new war has been generated, things start to get a little crazy. To see a perfect example of this occurring, we can look at World War I.
In 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the crown-prince of Austria-Hungary, is assassinated by a Serbian terrorist organization. Naturally, the Austrians are pretty angry, and decide to invade Serbia. Serbia’s ally, Russia, declares war on Austria. Germany, Austria’s buddy, declares war on Russia. Somehow, France gets involved. Germany invades neutral Belgium for kicks, and Britain gets declares war on Germany. Eventually, the United States gets sucked in after Germany attempts to convince Mexico to attack the United States. It was truly “a war to end all wars”.
When you think about it again, World War I really seems like an elementary school food fight between all the cliques. Kid A trips up Kid B. Kid B and Kid B’s friend, Kid C, start throwing stuff at Kid A. Kid A’s friend, Kid D, starts throwing food at Kid B and Kid C. Somehow, a random passerby, Kid E, gets smacked with a slice of pizza in the face; he starts throwing more stuff at Kid B and Kid C. So on and so forth.
Now that we can truly see revenge and war as childish food fights, we can really see how ridiculous the concept of beating some guy up because he beat me up really is. Revenge never truly ends a conflict. The “sweet” taste of revenge is, in reality, quite similar to the temporary satisfaction derived from scratching an itch in that it feels good during the moment, but only results in more pain and harm later on. As we’ve demonstrated earlier, revenge and waging war on an enemy only results in more war and revenge in the future.
Maybe we should all stop? Maybe then, we’ll be able to have the “war to end all wars”. Our experiences in war lead us to the conclusion that “war [is] no longer a positive quality, [but] a dangerous illusion”.