Friday, August 1, 2014

The War of the World

August 1, 1914. 7:30 PM. Germany declares war on Russia.

Both armies are mobilizing, bringing weapons to the field that are exponentially more powerful and more ruthless than anything before in human history.

It was clear that this was a momentous step, unleashing a catastrophic war in Europe. They knew it would be terrible when it began, but they did not know the dimensions of the horror that was being unleashed.

Armies of volunteers and conscripts poured into the field (and soon, the trenches) over the next four years, and massacred one another by the millions for reasons none of them really understood.

Terrible battles lay ahead, in which hundreds of thousands on both sides would be slaughtered, with no purpose being achieved, no ground taken, no advance, no retreat, nothing. The soldier who fell was anonymous, and his dead body would be replaced by another and another and another....

This conflict would bring the dehumanization of war to a new level, and would sow poisonous seeds of discouragement in the hearts of people in Europe and the West. The Great War raised the dramatic question of that last century: "Does the life of the individual human person have value for its own sake? Or is it merely part of a mass of humanity that is manipulated by those in power?"

This is still the urgent question for us today.