Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Complicated

I've been reading through stacks of World War II history books lately--a project I've been considering for a while and throughly enjoying since I embarked upon this adventure. As with most things that you only have a general knowledge of, once you break the surface, you find it complicated. The war was more widespread than I realized. Both sides struggled with and against technical advances. Unexpected people played unexpected roles. Suffering was universal. Cultural differences, particularly between east and west, gave birth to disasters, lack of preparedness, and unleashed viciousness. Noble sacrifice, unbridled ambition, maniacal hatred, and heroic vigilance motivated soldiers and civilians, the elite and the destitute, the virtuous and the depraved. It was sometimes hard to know a friend from a foe, and even harder to know if they held the same position a day, week, or month later. Truth was hard to come by; rumors were cheap and plentiful. As I dig deeper, layer upon layer of complication makes me realize what a precious treasures wisdom, mercy and compassion are.


John Lynch said...

"Truth was hard to come by; rumors were cheap and plentiful."

I submit that this is the normal state of things.

I think it is striking that World War II, a just war if there ever was one, is still an event with so many facets, so many components, each one possibly moral or immoral in its own right, that trying to make sense of the war as if it were some cohesive whole is essentially impossible. The Allies may have had justice on their side in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn't even scratch the surface of the broader moral implications of the war.

Lisa said...

There is no making sense of war. But we can always ask, given the same circumstances, how we would conduct ourselves. Even that has no true answer, because we, with 65 years of hindsight, cannot imagine how little an individual knew or understood from their non-omniscient, no hindsight, limited information existence. It was often a case of stabbing in the dark and hoping that you knew enough to strike in the right direction.