On Anzac Day Australians and New Zealanders grieve for those they knew, and the millions they did not know, most still in their youth, killed in combat, not just at Anzac Cove in Turkey on the 25th April 1915, but in conflicts since then.
Encyclopaedia Britannica has estimated that there were 8,529,000 fatalities in the 1st World War from 1914 to 1919. Although far fewer than the estimated 36,793,000 military and civilian casualties of the 2nd World War, what a tragic loss of life it was, devastating families around the world.!
How ironic that the wanton sacrifice of young life in the first world war a century ago has remained so memorable, while most now, and even back then, did not know what they were fighting for.
Surely the provocation, the assassination in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 of Archduke Franz Ferdinand heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, did not warrant such massive retaliation!! And it escalated! National enmities and loyalties caused distant countries to take sides in battles for national pride and supremacy, rather than for survival.
It is appropriate that on Anzac Day, we should not just remember those who fell, but why they died, and whether anything can be done to limit future mayhem.
Prevention may not be always possible, but we should at least try to understand if we can, why our leaders abandoned negotiation and compromise, to engage in military force. Let us try to learn from past mistakes in history.
For a full account of events: http://www.firstworldwar.com/origins/causes.htm
It may be the leaders who make the decisions, and should take the blame but the population must be accepting to empower them and complicit to embrace their vision.
Professor Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, in 1976 wrote the book “The Selfish Gene” in which he postulated the concept that ideas are spread through a community by replicating coded information he called memes, similar to the transmission from person to person of DNA coded genetic information. It is a useful concept which helps explain how cultural views and concepts can gain credence and be adopted by the majority, even when previously they may have been quite alien and unacceptable
How do ideas that lead to aggression, spread through society and gain credence? Richard Dawkins’ concept of memes, may well prove a fruitful avenue for study.