Weblog of Graham Wilson. Australian Artist. Pages filled with ideas that keep popping into my head.
Saturday, June 07, 2014
The War to end all Wars
2014 is a year that marks two very important anniversaries. It is one-hundred years since the start of The Great War, the War to end all Wars (It is sad to note that this title became redundant in later years). War did not, and has never, ended. Within two decades the 'War to end all Wars' would be supplanted by it's deadly sequel, the Second World War. The 'Great War' became World War One… and it's bastard child took the title of World War Two. 2014 also marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The battle that turned the war and led to liberation of Europe and the defeat of the Nazi menace.
Now is a time to reflect on these events and their long term echoes and ramifications. Many a word has been said about the momentous
events that shaped the 20th Century and continue to shape us today. Many a word will be said to mark the anniversaries too. Any war requires many words to be waged and many words to fathom once the war has reached an end. What else are we left with, when we turn on ourselves, other than words?
It is the power of words that shapes the world around us. The human imagination seems limitless. When the power of the imagination is set free it can create the most amazing things. It is both, our greatest gift, and our most dreadful curse. The volume of creativity unleashed by our imaginations is only ever matched by our gift for imagining destruction.
Words, and the power to control and deploy them, is our greatest tool. It is no mistake, or coincidence, that the English language is so vast, far reaching and powerful. It is the mark, the record, the echo of the largest empire to date. We talk of a time of peace and prosperity that exists between wars. We seem to be living in a time of (relative) peace. It may seem to be a time of peace but we are in the midsts of a war. We are living within a War of Words. George Orwell (1984, Animal Farm) warned us of the power of words and how they can be manipulated and used as weapons and as the basis of slavery and subjugation. Orwell imagined a language that could be twisted, diminished, and refined. Language used to control and contrive, to deny, and obfuscate. The worlds imagined by Orwell have come to life.
We live in a time where there are 'people' and 'boat people'. This is a definition designed to delineate. These classifications help us understand the world around us. Just like the terms 'human' and 'sub-human', 'Australian' and 'un-Australian'. It is of utmost importance that we understand how words are used to define and shape our world. How else are we to know the difference between 'lifters' and 'leaners', 'employed' and 'un-employed', 'deserving' and 'un-deserving'? We need to clarify who is an 'Aussie' and who is an 'Aboriginal', who is 'rich' and who is 'poor, who is 'left' and who is 'right'. It is important that we know the difference between 'land rights' and the 'right to land'...the difference between 'flora' and 'fauna' , 'cargo' and 'passengers', 'queues' and 'queue jumpers', 'vilification' and 'racism', 'occupied territory' and 'territory', 'tax' and 'levy'.
We have to be vigilant and wary when language is being used to control and direct us. Are we being talked into creating a world that we would want for ourselves or our children? Are we advancing humanity? Where are we headed and who is leading us? The time has come to be very alert. We've seen where words can lead us we know their power. We can choose our words wisely and we can choose a better world.