This year marks the 100th year of Poppy day, and we tell you all about how it came about in our series This month in history this month and while the reason for the poppy day drifts further back into history each year, one thing is for certain. War impacts immensely on thousands of lives, displaces whole communities, and leaves scars deep in nations for many years.
New Zealand’s remote location has ensured it has remained relatively untouched by the direct horrors of most wars that have raged globally but that is not to say we haven’t seen our fair share of conflict. Post-war calculations of WWII indicated that New Zealand’s ratio of killed per million of population (at 6684) was the highest in the Commonwealth (with Britain at 5123 and Australia, 3232). Prior to that war shaped much of the 19th century and even before the arrival of Europeans, what written history there is depicts largely a story of intertribal warfare.
What benefit has War? Scholars have debated endlessly the benefits and travesties of war, Stanford classics professor Ian Morris surveyed thousands of years of history to come away with the seemingly startling thesis that human progress has been helped, rather than hindered, by war. The idea that a period of life after the destruction of Leviathan has generally been created not by reasoned discussion but by war. Wars in general, although there have been more than 50 wars between great powers between 1550 and today have seen a steady decline in deaths per population.
It doesn’t take a scholar though to appreciate that the open wounds of conflict are an abhorrent stain on mankind and that for each of us the current season of conflict is a worrying one. The International Crisis Group is an independent organisation working to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world. They currently list deterioration situations in the following countries Chad, Zimbabwe, Guinea-Bissau, Ukraine and Libya and that is just a monthly update. How sad is it that they also monitor ‘regular conflicts.’ But like increasing costs, conflicts will continue around us.
Living in New Zealand affords us many advantages that many other countries do not enjoy. But recent perceived overreaches by our government in the name of health can be interpreted in different ways. Whilst still enjoying some support, many now see this Labour Government as out of their depth and causing great rifts and divisions between us. But like any season, there is a time when it will pass and the next year promises to one full of intrigue and revelation as we swing out of the pandemic, open up again to the world and prepare to either punish or reward the efforts made of the last few years in the lead up to the next election. So, let’s do that, lets embrace and support each other, lets encourage and build one another up, rather than cutting down. Find and help a business or family that is less fortunate or has less that what you do. Spend every day creating a better version of you and let’s put some careful consideration into that choice which will have to be made next year at the polling booth. Many things that happen around the world are out of our control, but our freedom to vote safely and without coercion is one that was fought and died for by New Zealanders. Let’s not waste it and forget the significance of the poppy.