The holidays are over, the Christmas trees are tossed aside; some still with a forlorn strand of tinsel tangled up their spent and brown branches. The relatives have left; the empty bottles have been recycled, the Visa bill has arrived. It’s called the January blues but I feel relived and content to get on with the day without the pressure of presents that nobody needs, the overabundance of food and drink, the cards unrequited and the lugubrious outpourings by the politicians and pundits. I’m glad it’s back to normal and was looking forward to my weekly chat with my friend Campbell, or Camp as I’ve always known him.
When Vicky set down two foaming mugs the world was in perfect sync until Camp broke the reverie and asked me what I thought of war and peace.]
“What?” I said. “Tolstoy’s novel about Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and two guys falling in love with the same girl?”
“Well, yes and no. I’m talking in general terms. Who and why do you think wants wars when it’s evident from world history that in war everybody always looses.”
“Bullies want wars because of insecurity and jealousy and it’s mostly men who want to battle other men for territory and steal their women and food,” I said, somehow mystified by Camp’s query.
“Yes and it’s always for either ideology like nationalism, communism and fascism.” Camp said.
“Or religion, because the other guys believes in the wrong god.”
“Or for money and to protect investments.”
“Don’t forget the subjugation of people for free or cheap labour.”
“And today we have cyber wars fought with fake news and propaganda, personal interference by way of social meadia and general misinformation that divides people and opinions. Just look at the Brexit quagmire or the scary rise of fascism and populism,” Camp said, throwing up his hands in disgust.
“There are civil wars which never end like in the Balkans, between Arabs and Jews, or Hindus and Muslims in India or even and there are so called independence wars all over the world,” I said.
“And the biggest industries and drivers of our economies are the weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grunman and even the Airbus Group,” Camp pointed out.
“It seems we are stuck with a war torn world,” I said glumly, staring into my empty mug, my initial jovial mood evaporated like the beer in front of me.
“Yes, there are only about a dozen countries that are conflict free.”
“On the other hand everybody wants peace,” I said, “trying to pick up the mood somewhat. “Mothers want peace for their children and smart people try to avoid conflict by finding solutions and compromises.”
“Yes, and peace is often mistaken for the absence of war and everybody wants peace but on their own terms,” Camp said.
“You guys solve all the problems,” Rosie said while cleaning the table next to us. “Maybe you two should figure out what to do about the border between the north of Ireland and the republic after Brexit.”
“How about let the north vote if they want to remain in Europe and be part of Ireland or if they want to exit Europe along with England.”
“That would become the bloodiest war of all,” Rosie said, “and nobody would win, least of all the Irish.”
“The whole thing was a bleeding gamble between some fecking politicians and guess what. Everybody lost,” Rosie said while giving the table a wipe.
“Including the politicians?”
“Who cares about the bleeding politicians. They can resign, collect their fat pensions and retreat into their mansions. I’m talking about the people. It’s always the people who loose and end up paying the bill.”
“Right you are Rosie and we two, of the people agree with you.”
“People need something to believe in, like a better future for their kids, a change for the better, an honest politician,” Rosie said.
“I believe I’ll haven another pint,” Camp said and I wholly concurred.