War and connectedness

On Saturday I was waiting for my wife outside the supermarket in Wendover and noticed the war memorial in the middle of the little square. Round the memorial, one on each side, were four plaques with about a dozen names on each of people who had fallen in the two world wars. Reading the names I was struck by how many had the same surnames. Presumably in such a small town they would have been brothers or close relatives. I thought again about how devastating this level of loss of life in close families must have been, especially with little connection with the world outside their rural environment they must have had.

I then found myself wondering about that lack of connection and how different things are nowadays. We are all closer to the wars that are fought in our name. We are less protected from the horrors, especially through uncensored footage on the web, and less naïve about what it is like to fight. We are also closer to the consequences of war.I know from working with NATO a few years ago that it is a challenge to stick to well established bereavement procedures when the family find out about the death of a loved one at the speed of an Internet connection.

But we are also less naïve about why, when, and how we fight wars. Would it still be possible to achieve mass movements and global war like Hitler did with the aid of Goering? Will it be harder to get us to fight wars when we are connected to those we are meant to be fighting on social platforms? Do the geographical boundaries and dated concepts like nation states mean as much as they used to and will we be as willing to fight over them?

Will we feel less need to fight wars generally when we are more connected and more understanding of each other – or will we just find new reasons to fight?

One thought on “War and connectedness

  1. I guess this is the time of year for that kind of reflection, I was pondering a similar question, wondering how a country like Germany becomes the tool of a dictator. Most of Europe now has a pretty comfortable existence in comparison to the years after the Great War. It is unlikely that sufficient motivation would be found in our populations to conduct the kind of conflict we remember on Armistice Day.

    Now, we are connected across geographical borders on social platforms, but of course social tools still operate around communities, be they ephemeral, such as the ‘ashtag’ community that came together to help each other travel around Europe, or more persistent around families or shared interests. I’m not sure that these communities necessarily communicate with others any better than they ever did. We still have religious schools who tend to bring together those that have a shared belief, we have populations of migrants all around Europe that feel a greater affinity to their belief system than they do their adopted land. The divisions, be they physical or virtual, still exist.

    I fear that it is where these boundaries exist that future conflict will occur. When two peoples become enemies, they won’t be handily separated in some arbitrary national boundary, they’ll be living on the other side of town.


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