Today the heads of state and representatives from the European nations who entered into the bloodiest conflict the world had ever seen one hundred years ago on this date gathered in Liege and other sites of early conflict to mark the occasion with ceremonies, speeches, and tributes. World War I was alleged to be the war to end war. Many expected the fighting to be over before Christmas. It would drag on in the trenches, forests, and towns of Europe and, indeed, the world, for four long, terrible years. Millions died as mechanized, industrial warfare transformed the scope and horrors of battle. It was the end of the old order but, equally or even more tragically, the herald of the new.
A century later, the world should be wiser, especially after a second World War which now seems more like a continuation of the first, and a Cold War that was its product, one that bankrupted nations morally and economically and brought the world to the edge of nuclear destruction. But as we scan the horizons of conflict from Syria, Gaza, and Iraq to Ukraine, Libya, central Africa, and the fraught zones of East Asia, it may be questioned if we have learned anything at all.
And yet, for all that, people still yearn for peace and those who work for peace shall be called the children of God.
…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. [Isaiah 2:4]