Deaf geographies, and other worlds.
Today is the 100th anniversary of the day that Britain officially entered the First World War.
Today, the media, and social media will be full of mentions of the war. Facebook and Twitter will be overflowing with it. And the news will be covering memorials of it everywhere.
I won’t be joining in the tweeting and the Facebooking.
It’s not that I don’t want us to remember… I do.
But I struggle with what will be remembered today.
Do we remember an awful, but inevitable war? Reluctant, but heroic leaders? Senseless, but sacrificial losses? Tragic, but historically distant events?
Do we remember… but we also remember…
What if we were to drop the ‘but’, and just remember the negative, in its raw, naked, nerve-end state, without allowing it to be resolved by a ‘but’.
What if we were to remember only the pain of loss? The frustration and helplessness? The mistrust? The suspicion and poison? The rage of not being able to act for ourselves? The destruction of property? The mourning of families? The alienation of cultures? The devastation of hope? The hollowness of nationhood? The wasted energy of hate? The twisted priorities of military funding? The lies of spin and rhetoric? The fiction of hierarchy? The cost of killing?
Most of all, what if we were to remember the utter betrayal of the last 100 years as we have been lulled into believing that war is inevitable? That it’s all we are capable of as humans?
Perhaps it’s a natural human response to add in the ‘but’, to try to come to terms with horror.
Perhaps it’s then a natural human response to add a shine to events. To reason that, if we cannot cope with them being terrible, and they are too significant to be banal, then they must be glorious?
I know I’m not alone in thinking this, and that there are plenty of others out there who are equally horrified by war and all it does.
But even in the midst of ongoing conflict in Gaza and the threat of escalating conflict in Ukraine… even as there are people living the horror of war first hand, there will be those who will today be encouraging people to wrap WWI in all kinds of fairy stories of national strength, and victory, and heroics. And with WWI, every other conflict before and since.
We are not, currently, at war. At least not officially.
But our moral, spiritual, national mindset is one in which we still are at war. The idea that we are still somehow fighting someone, somewhere is the only explanation I can find that gives us an excuse we have for not facing up to the idiocy of what war actually is.
… I’d like to see, just for one day, what the world might be like if we acknowledge that we don’t need to fight any more. Stepped away from the comfortable narratives. Left out the ‘but’, and allowed the crashing wave of unmanaged human tragedy that is war to totally submerge us.
That would be a fitting way to remember the events of 100 years ago.