Long Time Passing

What the hell do we keep on fighting for?
Can’t we see by now — there is no just war? – LLF

Anniversaries are meaningless. Yet it’s hard not to think about today’s centenary — the beginning of a horror we eventually designated as World War I. Nowadays when they want a war, our leaders get some catchy name all lined up well before the shooting starts. Which is mighty considerate of them, giving us plenty of time to get used to the sound of it, and to the idea of yet another brutal butchery. So we won’t find the whole thing quite so strange and shocking. Such an improvement — they’re only thinking of our delicate sensibilities and comfort, I’m sure.

The way my mind works, I commemorate wars … by listening to antiwar songs. Lots of them. ‘No Man’s Land’ … ‘The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” … ‘Why Old Men Cry’ … ‘Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream’ … ‘Masters of War’ … ‘Universal Soldier’ … ‘Everywhere’ … And on and on. We may have devised as many songs protesting war as we have had wars this past century. But I doubt it. We’ve outdone ourselves in war-making since 1914. With no end in sight.

There’s a war outside; I can hear the distant guns tonight.
There’s a war outside; I don’t know whether to run or fight.
If I open this door,
I may be deafened by the cannons’ roar.
There’s a war outside tonight.

There’s a child outside; I can hear her crying, and she’s so alone.
There’s a child outside; the first refugee is the last one home.
If I open this door,
They might flood in, from that foreign shore.
There’s a child outside tonight.

Everything’s okay, everything’s fine!
Just close your doors, until the end of time.
Satellite TV; turn off the news.
Nothing but bad news. Bad news.
No one wants to hear another bad news blues.

There’s a war outside; we don’t need to know who’s right or wrong.
There’s a war outside; the sirens are singing the warning song.
Tired and hungry, in a handout line,
The wrong place, at the wrong time.
There’s a war outside tonight.

There’s a war outside; and the guns are closer than they were last night.
There’s a war outside; I don’t know whether to run or fight.
If I open this door,
I may be deafened by the cannons’ roar.
There’s a war outside tonight.

Everything’s okay, everything’s fine!
Just close your doors, until the end of time.
Satellite TV; turn off the news.
Nothing but bad news. Bad news.
No one wants to hear another bad news blues.

There’s A War Outside
– Ian McCalman

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About l. l. frederick

I'm pretty ordinary, so I find any number of things in the world interesting, among them: books, music, flowers, food, social justice, politics and (sometimes!) people. As for my writing, I've decided that I can be subtle and tasteful when our only problems are esthetic ones. Or when I'm dead, whichever comes first. In the meantime, read at your own risk.
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2 Responses to Long Time Passing

  1. Ordinary people almost always oppose war. They have to be tricked into supporting it – either through some fake false incident that’s blamed on the victim or blatant pro-war propaganda and lies.

    • And yet. Tricks and lies work well enough, all too often. From our safe hundred-years distance, it’s almost inconceivable that states could induce men in their thousands and millions to stand in stinking trenches for four years, facing artillery fire, facing poison gas. And dying in staggering numbers.

      And of course many ordinary people were utterly revolted by such horrors. The League of Nations was set up, nominally to prevent future wars. Looks like that just pushed those in power to try harder. Developing new weapons requiring less … cannon fodder. Not to mention more sophisticated propaganda and psychological warfare techniques to use against all of us. I’m still embarrassed by how long it took me to understand that the system never has to fool all of the people, just enough of us so they can get away with their crimes against humanity. Thank you so much for your comment. – Linda

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