“These are the three acts in the tragedy of the bullfight… …It is in the first act that the bull comes out in full possession of all of his faculties, confident, fast, vicious and conquering… …In the second act he is baffled completely and very cruelly punished by the banderillas… …In the third act he is faced by only one man who must, alone, dominate him by a piece of cloth placed over a stick, and kill him from in front, going in over the bull’s right horn to kill him with a sword thrust between the arch of his shoulder blades.“
Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
“It was suggested that Japan might be induced to surrender by a harmless demonstration of the bomb. The case for this was partly the obvious humanitarian one. Niels Bohr strongly believed that the atomic bomb was so dangerous that it should be brought under international control. Leo Szilard argued its military use might make it difficult for countries to resist following the precedent. A bomb on Japan might be the ‘opening door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale’.“
Jonathon Glover, Humanity, A moral history of the twentieth century.
Eye contact. Fingers intertwined, feet shuffling in unison. Gathering for a photograph. Snaking through people to get off the train. 10,000 pairs of eyes watching the band on stage. 30,000 Arsenal fans sat silently in awe as they blow yet another season. 6 million sitting down at 7.30pm to watch their favourite soap opera. 2 billion people opening presents on or around the 24th or 25th December. 7.5 billion people waking up each morning, or in the case of toddlers, their parents and night shift workers; trying to go to sleep.
Everyday we live in harmony with other people, yet so very often we snarl and snap at one another. Like the poor bull, baffled and cruelly punished; dominated sometimes by just a single person. We do live in harmony, oblivious to the fact we do it every day of our lives. The fact I’m grumbling here instead of at my poor, suffering wife, is testament alone to the tolerance and openness in which we interact.
Since I’m determined to use every cliché in the book, I may as well turn to Orwell. Sorry George, I do mean well.
War is Peace. In that, during war people are occupied and come together in a spirit of camaraderie. Whereas in peace, discontent ferments. We know this isn’t really the case. Anyone whose been out at night and seen the groups of men and women, dancing, flirting, vomiting and generally having a great time in concert, knows that camaraderie is as cheap as a few pints of beer. I may find discontentment in the most mundane of things, for example, the banality of going to the toilet. But I’m hardly going to take up arms, calling out a rallying cry of “DEATH TO TOILETS”. Come the revolution brothers and sisters, boring bodily functions will be first against the wall.
Toilet massacre, vomiting and Orwell in one paragraph. I am so, so sorry.
Humanity is always preoccupied by something. We positively cannot sit still. When our preoccupations line up, like the instruments in an orchestra, the beautiful waveform created can either be wonderfully great (Mozart), or utterly terrible (Wagner). Unfortunately, we end up only being able to tell one from the other with any great clarity, with hindsight. Nuclear bombs, as awesome in their power as they are, were clearly a mistake. Others would argue that through them, we have achieved peace, a.k.a. MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction. War is Peace after all.
“To every Action there is always opposed an equal Reaction“
Newton, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
Perhaps harmony isn’t the correct phrase, maybe equilibrium is more descriptive. Imagining war and peace on each side of a see-saw – the pivot as stability; the more peace, the more discontent and resentment grows and the more inevitable war becomes. The more war, the higher and louder the clamour for peace. It would seem that ideally, for balance, we need a small amount of war and peace, everything in moderation. It’s almost mathematical in its simplicity.
However, what would happen if we could release the yoke of war and peace completely and simply get on with living. Would it lead to a different world and is it ever a possibility? Can we ever break this chain, this never-ending cycle of events?
Living on this planet of ours requires cooperation. Fortunately, it is innate to us. We live in harmony yet we cannot or choose not to recognise it. If the harmony is orchestrated by us all, every last one of us; what kind of a tune should we play?