Alexandra – Year 9 Student
Editor’s note: I could have submitted at least two handfuls of answers in response to this task, but this one really stood out. Alexandra, now in Year 10, wrote the following in response to the task at the bottom and it really made me go ‘Wow’: sophisticated, concise, and yet emphatic. This is Alexandra’s second publication in The GSAL Journal; view all their contributions here. KSH
Why do people fight? Why do people kill? When we are taught to celebrate and preserve life, why do people still participate in conflict? Though reasons for war, and their resultant deaths, continuously change; the foundations of glorifying violence have stood the test of time.
In the past, participating in war was deemed to be valiant. This manipulated message was created by jingoistic propaganda controlled through media coverage. In World War I, limited information reached the public as newspapers, radio and newsreels were the only bridge connecting them to the war efforts. This information, alongside floodtides of propaganda, was polished and refined to create a fabricated idealisation of war.
Although the reality of war is now more truthfully covered in the media, war continues to be glorified in the present day by the manipulation of ideologies and religion. People in positions of power, within organisations such as ISIS, continue to commemorate and praise death to encourage participation in warfare. Martyrdom is perceived as a glorious and venerated action and those who become martyrs are regarded as ‘defenders of their societies’.
In 2018, Cambridge University’s Student Union voted down a motion to promote Remembrance Sunday. The majority of students feared that the annual celebration glorified war and conflict and, instead, they called on the University to be “more proactive in promoting the cause of Remembrance”. Does this mean, in the mutable sea of evolving beliefs, our views on the glorification of war and its justifications will stay the same, or are they going to be swept up by the ever-changing tide?
For now, however, we as a society continue to embrace the view of Tennyson – forever admiring the acquiescence of our soldiers, repeatedly asking, “When can their glory fade?”