"...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
War has been romanticized in innumerable books and movies, and made fortunes for those who exploited the subject well. (Clint Eastwood is still at it, among others, with his latest opus, Flags of Our Fathers). In most movies—at least until recently—soldiers died "beautifully"—no hideous wounds, no real gasping fear in their eyes, they even got to say a few noble words for posterity, proof of a charitable destiny that, despite assigning them death, did not deny them their fifteen seconds of centerstage.
"There, for the Grace of You Know What, Go I."
But war is ugly. And war is also ruthless, sordid, and ill-mannered. It doesn't give most people time to proffer pretty speeches. And like death—which is its normal and inevitable companion—war remains in some ways unfathomable. Wars can be depicted as noble only by those who are too naive, too young, too deluded, too corrupt, too sociopathic, or too stupid to understand the obscenity that killing in such an organized fashion represents. Are there "good wars"? Maybe. Nothing is absolute, not even something as heinous as war. But we'll leave that question for another day, another article. Let us say however this much: most wars in the history of our species have been useless, stupid enterprises; for all the suffering and mayhem they have caused, they have been utterly unnecessary...the instruments of knaves and the glory of fools, a massive carnage unleashed by every single form of human defect and backwardness: greed, deceit, ignorance, fanaticism and mass stupidity.
So whether a war is "good" or "bad" —while certainly an important consideration—there is one thing that all wars are, and that is they are unvelievably, obscenely ugly—as these images attest.
This is the real face of war, which our engines of mass misinformation will never show you. We owe it to them, to those who died, to look at them, and reflect upon this criminal madness, to ponder the reasons why such people were put, found themselves, in harm's way...and who put them there...in the hope that eventually, more and more people will try to understand the actual mainsprings of war, and mobilize to make them—at last—a thing of the past.
So, why do we fight?
We, progressives, fight to ban this horror from human history, and to do so we must revolutionize society and man.
One last word of caution: We suggest that only adults visit this gallery.
"Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares" was a gift from the then Soviet Union presented in 1959. Made by Evgeniy Vuchetich, this bronze statue represents the figure of a man holding a hammer in one hand and, in the other, a sword which he is making into a plowshare, symbolizing man's desire to put an end to war and convert the means of destruction into creative tools for the benefit of all humankind.