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History calls: Demanding wise counsel and respect

Ray-Petersen
Ray-Petersen
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Ray Petersen -


petersen_ray@hotmail.com -


Every society, for millennia, has looked upon itself as the one that is right in its beliefs, traditions, societal structure, and behaviours, and why not? The most intrusive and harmful conflicts throughout history have occurred because one society chooses to inflict its cultural and societal norms, upon others, and that has never been the right thing to do. The strong will always prey upon the weak, but this is a ‘food-chain’ philosophy, and not appropriate to mankind.


Each society has a purpose that moulds its conduct and that priority for all, is first, survival. Every society has an environmental challenge that forces societal needs, and it may be that survival is paramount due to a lack of water, food or shelter from the elements, either in terms of cold from snow and ice, heat from the sand and Sun, flooding in low-lying lands or in the lee of mountain ranges. Nature can further challenge societies through eruptions, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados and fire, while plague and pestilence also shape societies, globally, continentally, regionally, and even locally.


The issue of one culture superimposing itself upon another is that, especially where geographical differences are significant, there has always been a distinct lack of respect for the environment of the targeted society, and nature’s unwillingness to bend and break, as much as a people will.


The European Crusades to the Middle East and North Africa yielded nothing that lasted except enmity. Europeans were always going to struggle in the heat and deprivation of the arid continents, and with no appreciation of the culture of their foes. They were too used to the green, green grasses of their homes.


Napoleon bit off more than he could chew when he opened simultaneous fronts against Russia, Spain and Britain at the same time, challenging three extremely diverse cultures and climates. He carried out operations in the Russian snows, in the merciless head and humidity of the Iberian Peninsula, and at the same time sought to blockade a Britain that at the time, ‘owned the oceans!’ Adolf Hitler sought to bring fascism to the world, like Napoleon, coming undone against multiple foes, but like Napoleon, underestimating the impact of nature and climate, reaffirming that “Man plans, and God laughs,” as he too was tripped up by Russian snows, the heat and vastness of North Africa, and the fickleness and seemingly impervious nature of the moody British Channel.


Japan will never forget the beginning and the end of its defiance of distance, language and culture as it sought to bring imperialism to the gentlest regions of the Pacific in the 1940s. America’s final response a hammer blow.


Then America, threatened by Communism, sought to ‘spank’ the Chinese in Vietnam, and with no concept of the societal structure and its need, primarily, to keep growing rice to sustain its population, underestimated (whatever the political situation) the people’s need to survive, to live at all costs, and their own ability to function in an environment of vegetation, jungle and monsoon conditions where, eventually, those they went to ‘save’ didn’t want them either. Another poorly advised and managed intervention.


No history lesson here, it’s not my forte, and my perspectives in each conflict could easily be argued, but what I am keen to do is to emphasise that surely we have learned nothing if people continue to die in global conflicts that have no hope of success. Whether driven by ego, greed or malice, war and conflict achieve nothing good! Why this topic, this week? I don’t know that there is a great deal any of us, individually, can do to prevent what is currently occurring in the international waterways around us, however we must all ensure that this current conflict, impasse, whatever it is termed, this confrontation, is never allowed to impact upon ordinary folk, in the manner of the past, or all that has been for no purpose.


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