Sunday, August 16, 2015

70 years ago, when the world began anew. . .

I missed marking VJ Day yesterday.
The war is over. The conflict has ended. People can breathe again. Tents and tanks are put away; men and women board ships for home. Cities, demolished, start to rebuild. Countries, frightened, weep with relief; weep with sorrow. Deaths are mourned; homecomings are celebrated. Loss is accute. Life is accute, be it present or gone.
Confusion. Exultation. Shock. Rejoicing. Some wondering what will become of them; some certain that everything will be alright from now on. Some surrounded by death and pain, silent; some surrounded by life and joy, clamour.
The war is over. The conflict has ended. Life can begin again.
The more I study WWII, the more I'm convinced that there will always be good people in this world. People who fight for what they believe in, regardless of the cost. And I mean this for ALL sides of this conflict: the Axis forces, the Allied forces, and all those people caught in the struggle.
I believe that most Axis members weren't bad people -- they were good people who trusted their leaders and sacrificed for their countries. Granted, this was mostly the young, while the older generations watched in fear. Terrified to do *their* version of the right thing, but trying through underground networks or by attempting to shelter their children. Not bad people -- people trapped by circumstance; children raised to spread an idea, warped though it was.
I believe that most Allied members weren't bad people -- they were good people who saw a monstrous threat intent on swallowing humanity and spitting it out as something which was, to them, horrific. And so they fought back, for their families, their freedoms, their way of life. They sought to halt an idea, a system that seemed intent on the world's destruction.
Both sides had a goal. Both sides had a belief. Both sides, though one is easily marked the bad and the other just as easily marked the good, were full of good people trying to do what they believed was the right thing. I know that this analysis is somewhat simplified -- it doesn't account for every variable, because that would take pages and pages of documented research to present a sound argument. But simply put, everyone had something they believed in: the Axis' New World; the Allied idea of freedom and safety for everyone, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, or lifestyle.
What to us is clearly an evil may be obviously good to someone else. Take the current conflicts with ISIS and ISIL: many of them truly believe that what they do is right. And what do we support and perpetuate that others in the world see as evil?
Good people do bad things -- sometimes we know what we're doing is wrong, and we feel too frightened or too unconcerned to change it. Sometimes we don't know it. Does that make those people bad? Evil? I don't believe that it does.
Our perspectives shape the way we see good and evil. I believe that if everyone looked harder for these perspectives, to understand how and why people think and believe the way that they do -- I believe that there would be more love. Less hate. More talk. Less gunfire.
I'm glad the war ended the way that it did. I sorrow for the loss of innocent life that led to Japanese surrender. I understand that many believe that it was the only way, and I have often thought about other possibilities. I wonder what would have happened if talking had been an option, if a greater respect for all human life could have made things change. It didn't happen that way -- and so we can appreciate what goodness DID come from the ending of the Pacific conflicts, and think of all the goodness that can be found in stories of people throughout the terrible time that was WWII.

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