Attributed to Plato in 4th C, used by McCarthur in 20th C, used in “Black Hawk Down” in 21st C, this quote causes a shudder and goosebumps. I think it troubles me because it seems so true in the history of man. One war ends where another begins. One conflict leads to peace in one area but spurs warfare and atrocities somewhere else. We never seem to be at peace or feeling peaceful. Jealousy, inequity, greed, fear, reprisals, fear of reprisals, and tribalism don’t get hidden away for long. It seems that the smaller the world gets, the less we appreciate each other and any difference we have. Maybe we are banging into each other and not apologizing.
The more diverse we become, the more divisively we react to big things and to straw. Nothing is too small to fight about or at least that is what the authorities in society seem to believe. National governments, tribal councils, religious affiliations hold their positions to be sacred and are willing to demonstrate their strength with force. Does acting as the instrument of force justify the enormous role authorities are playing? If they weren’t causing trouble with our neighbour or defending a slight, would they be able to convince us of their value?
I would give them more credit if they could come together and create/embrace a lasting peace – a time of agreement where possible and accommodation where it isn’t. Liberty doesn’t exist because of conflict, it exists in spite of conflict. I try to imagine the freedom that would rise up if we weren’t in a perpetual state of war.