20 Sep 2012


Last weekend, we watched a powerful demonstration of national education by our countrymen in the news. We could not help but wonder if our country would be dragged into war again.

At the turn of the last century, the prevailing view among academics was that large-scale warfare would not happen in Europe anymore because of the high level of economic development. The cost of war would be too great for any country. Unfortunately, shortly after the proclamation, two biggest wars in history broke out one after another.

If economic reasons are not strong enough to stop people from making stupid decisions, can globalization help? For two groups of people to kill each other, the distinction between ‘them’ and ‘us’ has to be clear cut. Soldiers are even trained to see enemies as animals. To do so, however, one has to be sufficiently unfamiliar to people in the opposing party. Even during relatively modern combats such as the Gulf War, the average soldier knew close to nothing about the culture, religion and life of his enemies. Now, we know our neighbors so well. We visit their cities, watch their movies and eat their noodles. Some of them are nasty, but so are we and the rest are good people. Is this knowledge good enough? I am not sure.

That said, a country should be defined by its people but not the number of uninhabited islands it claims. Sacrificing precious lives for sacred and oil-soaked soil? My answer is no.

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