The ghastly effects of war lingers for years. Suffering occurs at every level of society, but it is even more pronounced among the poor. Armed conflict causes the displacement of innocent civilians, it cuts off food supplies, it separates families, and it causes loss of livelihood. People lose their homes, their land, their possessions, and too often they lose their lives or the lives of their loved ones. In a typical conflict more civilians are injured and killed than military personnel. Whichever side wins, they often rule without concern for the innocent who have been ravaged by their success.

The cost of victory can push the conquered region into chaos, those in power rule over an area that, because of the never ending hostilities, is filled with disease and starvation and is no longer economically viable. Within their acquired territory there is no loyalty from the people who have been beaten down by the fighting, and in order to remain in power the victorious rule with cruelty and fear, thereby increasing the suffering of those they claim to represent. Before too long another militia or clan overthrows them, and the entire cycle of death and destruction begins again. All the while, the people at the bottom bear the awful burdens of the conflict.

War is particularly brutal on children. They not only suffer from the horrible physical realities of living in a combat zone, they also suffer enormous mental trauma because they are forced to witness first hand the depths of abuse and depravity that mankind is capable of. They see with their own young eyes what most of us are spared from witnessing throughout our entire lives. Their innocence is taken from them, and they are forced to grow up immediately with no opportunity for childhood. And because the mental impact of war is so severe, they are scarred forever.

How is a 7-year-old girl suppose to cope when she watches her mother being raped by a group of soldiers? How is a young child suppose to handle the fact that his 13-year-old brother was fighting with one of the local militias when he was shot in the face? How does an innocent child come to grips with seeing his father disemboweled when he steps on a landmine? Children witness these brutal acts of violence everyday all around the world.

Hope is vanquished by war. People who are trapped in a military conflict are forced to live in constant fear and terror because they are caught between warring factions who will treat them savagely no matter which side “wins”. Many of the life threatening issues that are inherent in extreme poverty such as starvation, illness, poor sanitation, disease, inadequate shelter and lack of medical care are compounded during armed conflict. Survivors are herded into refugee camps where disease runs rampant. Families are broken apart and separated. Militias force young boys into service even though they are barely strong enough to lift the kalashnikovs that they will use to kill other children with. War causes humanity to act in countless obscene ways and always at the expense of the most vulnerable. To win a military action this way is to win nothing. Everyone involved loses. The defeated are dehumanized and made to suffer appallingly, while the victors become monsters who rule with hatred and vengeance.

What drives mankind to wage war? What do we believe we will gain by killing others? What is the prize that is worth the horror of shattered bodies and minds? Where is the victory in getting to rule over a country in ruins? In too many developing nations the end result of war is only more war. This is due, in part, because the warring parties are often supplied by outside entities. Usually these are nations who feel they have something to gain from the conflict without having to be directly involved in the fighting. It is tragic that those in power believe the only way that humanity is capable of solving its differences is by killing those who disagree with them.

War represents mankind at its absolute worst. It is everything that is evil in this world. It excuses behavior that would never be tolerated under any other circumstances. It has been the scourge of humanity since the beginning of history and, unfortunately, we still view it as a viable option even though we fully realize the misery, anguish and sorrow that it brings. To kill others over meaningless territory, to kill others over natural resources, to kill others because their ethnicity is different than yours, to kill others because you don’t believe in their religion or to kill others so that you may gain some insignificant measure of power is the height of belligerence towards the human race. To ravage the land, for your own selfish purposes, as you bring devastation and carnage into the lives of innocent men, women and children is indefensible.





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