The dilemma of romanticizing war in the media

By Mahadhir Monihuldin

I can imagine many terrible predicaments that could befall a perfectly innocent human being.

Many of them.

But out of the many terrible predicaments that my mind is capable of summoning, one that, as of now, stands on top of them all in sheer degree of horror involves the life of a very private man living in a nation embroiled in war.

This is the life of a man who is forced to join the catastrophe of armed conflict for a war that’s completely meaningless to him. It’s meaningless because to this poor soul, the war does not interest him whatsoever. The cause of this war bears no weight in his heart, unlike the others from his nation who constantly exalt the cause to no end.

This man’s heart is already filled with a very simple desire of wanting to live a private life. A life where no one, whether friend or foe to his country, will interrupt him in his daily affairs. Indeed, this is an innocent man who longs for solitude and nothing more.

Despite that, he goes on to fight for the meaningless war his country is entangled in, not out of any sense of love or honor or patriotism that he harbors inside, but solely out of coercion from a government that shows no remorse for the well being of only one individual.

‘There are millions of people in need of protection!’ they say to themselves. ‘Who cares about the death of just one person?’ Thus, he is thrown into the terror of the battlefield, not willingly but forcefully.

The romanticization of war. It’s something that we who are born with the privilege of shelter and security would often observe in the films and tv shows that we watch, most probably inside the comfort of our cozy house or in an air conditioned cinema hall.

We would see soldiers hurdled around in a wide circle of brotherhood. They’re listening to a spectacular speech of motivation by their unwavering leader who looks like he has the answer to everything! Completely unfazed by death, the men yell out their battle cry together as one.

With the dramatic music playing in the background, they step onto the soil of battle, fight against their evil enemies, and then somehow win. Some side characters probably didn’t make it by the end, but who cares, it’s still a happy ending all the same. And so our chest swells with heartfelt admiration as the credit starts to roll. There was nothing for us audience to fear. War is a glorious thing, right? It must have a happy ending somehow.

This is the narrative that has often been told to us privileged people when it pertains to war. But let us go back to the private man whom I had mentioned at the start. The poor innocent man who, in my mind, will suffer the most horrific of predicaments that could befall a human being.

As he prepares himself to enter the field of conflict with his battalion by his side, everyone including him knew they will soon perish in the midst of battle. As a consolation prize for their honorable effort, each one of them pray that at the very least, they will perish in the battlefield with pride and grace.

Many of them were granted that prize. Each and every one of them deserved it. But unfortunately, for that private man who wanted nothing else but to be left in solitude, that prize was not granted to him.

For him, upon taking his first step onto the soil of battle, unlike the beauty that emanates from a soldier who struggles long and hard till his final breath, this poor man gets immediately obliterated by a big, darting bullet which brutally shatters his skull to pieces.

The innocent man is violently shot to death without even having the opportunity to contribute to a war he found meaningless, a war which he was even coerced to join. All he wanted was to be left alone in peaceful solitude. Instead, this was the miserable fate bestowed to him.

No tales of heroism will be told for this man. His story will not stand against the test of time.

Indeed, this is the true savagery of war. And this one man represents the face of many soldiers around the world who feel the same way and will die the same way. In Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Ukraine. Soldiers forced to fight for barbaric wars that are completely meaningless to them.

No, there is no romantic beauty in war. The only story that it has is one of utter tragedy.

But for every war induced tragedy that we witness before us, for every soldier that we know will be mired in the mud of misfortune, we think about them and we remember.

Remember just how lucky we are to be in the privileged position we’re in. Remember to appreciate the good things we have going on for us. And when life takes a heavy toll on us, think about these soldiers who will suffer the great tragedy of war.

Do this, and believe me, the struggles and hardships you feel will begin to evaporate out of you. For it is these brave soldiers who will bear the deepest wounds and scars of all.***

Mahadhir bin Monihuldin

A conflicted writer

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