Top 3 Reasons The World Wars Matter to You

For many people today the fact that it’s the centennial of the First World War seems quant.  That war was 100 years ago, how is it relevant to me now, in my life?  The same can be said of the Second World War, which ended over 69 years ago (depending on what you take for the end).  That is several generations removed from me.  Most of the remaining participants are great-grand parents who rarely talk about it.  Why should I care? 

Here’s the top three reasons why everyone today, no matter where you live, what you do, or what you believe should consider the relevance of the World Wars to your life.

3. They are not over yet.

What do I mean that they are not over yet?  Peace treaties were signed, atomic bombs were dropped, countries were literally moved and others were simply created out of nothing; how could it not be over? 

Actually, multiple ways:

1.       If you look around the world at the potential areas of conflict today you see the unfinished business of both wars festering as wounds intent on spoiling the peaceful relation between the countries.  Here’s a short list of conflict flash-points stemming from The World Wars:

{C}a.       North Korea/South Korea Divide

{C}b.      China/Taiwan

{C}c.       China and the South China Sea

{C}d.      Japan and China in the East China Sea

{C}e.      The Russian invasion of the Ukraine

{C}f.        The civil wars taking place throughout the Middle East and North Africa

{C}g.       The soon-to-be short-lived independence of the countries of Central Asia

{C}h.      Russia’s enclave of Kaliningrad

{C}i.         Unsettled and unsettling Russians in the Baltic States

{C}j.        Many more that I don’t have time to list. . .


2.       The residue of war still kills.  Unexploded bombs from The World Wars still litter the countryside, and even the cities, of countries the world over.   Regular reports of farmers, children, and others finding unexploded ordinance populate newspapers on a regular basis.  Just because a peace treaty is signed does not mean the killing stops.  Removing these unexploded bombs, landmines, and other explosives from war ravaged regions is a never-ending effort consuming millions of dollars, and several hundred lives every year.

2. The world we live in today stems directly from their technological advances.

Every piece of technology we use today can trace its roots back to at least The World Wars.  From remote control, cell phones, computers, the internet, jets, rockets, heart stents, penicillin, and other medical breakthroughs devised in the 20th and 21st century, everything we use comes from research conducted to fight and win The World Wars, or the wars that followed because of them.  Look around your desk, your house, your car, or even your body.  From Nylon to Teflon to Facebook and beyond, The World Wars led to the life you live today.

1. It’s not just our children who will fight and die in the next one.

Speaking of your life today; chances are that if you live in the countries of Western Europe or North America you’ve got it pretty good.  You have access to clean water, food, healthcare, and the security in knowing that you are pretty safe as you go through your day.  You’re probably most concerned with saving for college or retirement, getting the kids to school on-time, and where to go to dinner.

That sense of safety and comfort is temporary.  Not just for your children who will be called upon to fight the next World War, which they will.  But also for you.  The expansion of war from only injuring/killing those on the battlefield to the involvement and harm of everyone wherever they are located began in earnest in World War I, grew exponentially in World War II, and when the next great war comes, will require and consume civilians on a far greater scale than military personnel.  Civilians will be the primary target after an initial military on military engagement.  Our comfortable lives will be disrupted, possibly ended, even though we will probably be too old to don a military uniform and thousands of miles away from the conflict zone. 

Our children will be the ones in the 21st century equivalent of trenches.  We, the civilians, will per capita, will be the ones most threatened by enemy actions, whether kinetic, cyber, or some other form not yet imagined.

What can I do?

We can do our best to prevent the next war by:

1.       Holding our leadership accountable for their actions. 

2.       Think rationally, rather than act on fear, about international conflicts and their resolution. 

3.       Support and encourage leaders who believe in non-violent resolution to problems. 

4.       Support and maintain a strong deterrent military, while adhering to President Eisenhower’s warnings about an already leviathan military-industrial complex.

5.       Work with international partners to empower citizens across the world with the will and ability to non-violently remove corrupt and militaristic regimes from power.

6.       Support democratic movements the world over, from Hong Kong to Russia and many areas in-between or far from those.

7.       Get and stay engaged with the world, what’s happening in it, and what it means to you personally.