Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 17. August 3, 1950
If you want War....
If you want War.....
And so we prepare to prevent wax. Throughout New Zealand, thousands of young men are willing to volunteer for service overseas. It is a cheering thought that so many of them have heard the call to defend the cause and principles of the United Nations, and straightway will go to do battle for it.
This is a noble sentiment: but we would be lucky were it true in more than one case out of a hundred.
One of the alarming things about war has always been its appeal to the "adventurous spirit" of man; it has always been able—even when the reverse was flagrantly true—to masquerade as a grand pageant, noble and patriotic. For this reason, to answer a call for something more stimulating than the humdrum round of living, men have been prepared to fight.
One of the first things we should do to help prevent wars is to do away with this glamorous view of war. In fact, it is a dirty business at the best; at the worst, it leads to a degradation of the human spirit which is frightening. We will undoubtedly be told that these men are going forth to fight for UN—ninety nine out of every hundred of them will possibly be unable to answer a simple series of questions about what United Nations means: most will be going for the adventure, for the break from ordinary living. It's a pretty appalling thought that it js in this spirit we drift into war.
We can at least stop being hypocritical about these things, if nothing else. Let's stop pretending that most men volunteer for a crusade: some may, and for their opinions—much as we may think them disastrous—we should have some respect; they are willing to risk their necks for them. But for the others who can regard modern warfare as a pleasant little world tour with a spice of adventure tossed in, we must have a sinking pity.
From here on, it looks like the politician's and the jingoist's paradise, and the devil take the levelheaded.