Effects of War on Humanity as Depicted in Various Pieces of Literature

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Abstract

This paper explores a number of texts that support the idea of what the effects of war on humanity are, for example, an article by the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Those effects include the changing of morals, the displacement of people, the mental illnesses developed by war such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and finally the division war creates between people.

Keywords: Morals, Displacement, Mental illness, PTSD, Division, IRC

In the modern world, most have heard of the term war, whether it has directly impacted humanity or not. War is not a new idea, it has been around for a long time. The World Wars in the 1900s and their catastrophes brought upon humanity are a great example of what war is capable of. Today the discussion is about what are the effects of war on humanity? The effects of war on humanity include, the changing of morals, the displacement of people, mental illnesses developed by war, and the division created between humans. In further detail, the following texts will be analyzed: The Destructors by Graham Greene, Lather but Nothing Else by Hernando Tellez, The Box by Merve Cirisoglu Cotur, White Helmets by Orlando von Einsiedel, The Last Letter by James Clark Jr, A Look into the Mental Health Crisis in Syria by, the International Rescue Committee, and The Sniper by Liam O’Flaherty.

The impact that war has can change our morals and views on the idea of right and wrong, especially in children. This can promote future violence in communities and areas where war has made a significant appearance. Whilst this behavior continues, we can expect rising criminal activity and incarceration for severe and petty crime because people lose sight of right and wrong when surrounded by such terrible conflict. This kind of turmoil is seen in the short story The Destructors by Graham Greene. Specifically, the gang of kids presented in the story. The teens view, “destruction as a kind of creation” (Greene, 1954, p.7 ), instead of a bad thing. Most likely because the war conditioned them into that mindset; which later leads to the demolition of an elderly man’s home, leaving the man in turn homeless. This affects humanity because when you have young individuals who think this way, the future is going to be directly impacted as a result because they are our future. Additionally, moral shift is also seen in the story called Lather but Nothing Else by Hernando Tellez. In this story, we are introduced to a local barber living in the time of a civil war in Columbia, South America. One afternoon, this barber had a welcoming visit from the leader of the opposition in the civil war asking for a shave. While shaving the man’s beard, the barber begins having morbid thoughts of killing the man in cold blood while also trying to reason with his morals. For example: “I am a revolutionary but not a murderer and it would be so easy to kill him. He deserves it. Or does he?” ( Hernando, 1950, Pg 3). He eventually convinces himself into not killing the man. Now if it weren’t for the war and its impacts on the barber’s community, the barber would have never had to experience the thought of killing another man in cold blood for the sake of doing good for his own cause.

War displaces families and people due to destruction of homes and landscapes making those areas uninhabitable. Displacement in a situation of conflict is essentially the act of seeking refuge and the moving of people caused by an internal conflict. This results in greater cases of identity crisis in younger refugee populations because most children have had to leave home at a young age and haven’t gotten to experience their family’s culture and traditions. We can expect to see higher rates of depression, confusion, and the worst-case scenario, alienation from society. This type of thing is seen in the short film, The Box, by Merve Cirisoglu Cotur. In the beginning, the main character, a young boy who is living in Syria when war wasn’t as apparent. From a viewer’s perspective, the boy starts out having a happy and healthy life, which included a family, a home, and his pet. A very normal lifestyle for a child. Then the film takes a turn and progresses into a series of bombings started because of a war conflict emerging. The result of the bombings left the boy homeless and at a loss of a family. The boy begins wandering for somewhere safe and in this story, safety is across the ocean. This is an especially good example because most refugees are children, and have lost family.

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According to statistics provided by the short film, “ More than 6 million children have been displaced from their homes” (Cotur, 2016, T. 6:18). Those children are then usually left alone and confused and with no sense of identity in the foreign countries they seek refuge in. Most deal with culture shock and are forced to deal with the difficult change. Furthermore, another example of displacement is in an article detailing the journey of a family from Syria trying to seek refuge in Germany. The story, Salma’s Story: One Refugee Family’s Journey From Syria to Germany written by Cassandra Vinograd and Ben Adams is a perfect example of displacement due to war. In the text it is mentioned that Salma’s home and everything was destroyed: “They attack us with gun, with helicopter, with everything,” she also said, “They attack us, they destroy our house… we didn’t have anything. We lost everything in Syria” (Vinograd & Adams, 2015). The loss of a home directly impacts families as seen in this example. Those displaced will struggle and could face poverty and more societal issues.

With the continuous exposure of battle, citizens can start to develop mental illnesses such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Having these illnesses presents greater threats, like high rates of poverty and in worse cases, homelessness. This is portrayed very well in the article, A Look into the Mental Health Crisis in Syria by, the International Rescue Committee. Currently, in Syria, “ more than 50 percent of Syria’s population is in need of mental health support ” (IPC, 2018). This is half the population that is dealing with a mental health issue caused by war. Having such high mental health issues like these prove to be linked to higher homelessness rates, because when people can’t function due to trauma, it puts a strain on the workforce. For example, in an article by the IRC describes one case they faced: “ I went to visit a family at their home-you couldn’t imagine the situation. I found four men between the ages of 18-40, all of them parlyzed by mental disabilities. Both parents are old and cannot work” ( IRC, 2018). This absolutely will drive many families into poverty if there is a lack of people who can support each other or themselves.

Another example is seen in The Last Letter by James Clark. A letter written by a dying soldier addressed to his family. The letter shows deep emotion and pain transcribed through words, for instance the parents reacted very emotionally, “A tear ran down her cheek [a]s she read the words he wrote” (Clark Jr, 2012, Line 1-2). The effects of an overwhelming experience like this can drive some people into depression and hurt individuals tremendously. The loss of a family member can be very unbearing, especially when believing that there is no need for war. This is a big impact due to war, and the consequences that follow. Again, with rising rates of poverty caused by mental illness, it can create dangerous environments with homelessness rates rising or even the stability of individuals who may react negatively and possibly hurt somebody or pass on blame.

War has the effect of dividing people. This becomes apparent when families start to clash because of differing world views. People might start treating individuals differently and assess their opinions and feelings on others based on their political stance. For example, in the story The Sniper by Liam O’Flaherty, Ireland is in the middle of a civil war. The people of Ireland become divided because one group of citizens agreed to becoming a free state in the British empire and another group agreed to complete independence. With such divided political views a civil war broke out between the two parties, resulting in many casualties. For one of those citizens, the casualty was his brother. A firefight between a group of people on a street and building ended with the killing of a brother: “ The sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother’s face” ( O’Flaherty, 1923, p. 4). When humans get to this point and can’t work with each other as a whole, it can stunt a country’s growth due to the people’s unwillingness to cooperate with each other. The outbreak of violence can also become generational and carry over. For example, in countries such as Pakistan or Afghanistan where the Polio disease was present the process of innovating a cure was stunted when outer countries helped. The division and conflict between people in these countries delayed the need for innovation and capabilities of curing the disease. Another example of political division can be visually represented in the documentary, The White Helmets directed by Orlando von Einsiedel. This documentary based around the conflict of the Syrian civil war, lays out a perfect example of division in Syria. The people wanted a difference in the country, and so they protested. The protesters were treated inhumanely and were killed by members of government as well as bystanders who disagreed ( “Why is there a war in Syria?”, 2019). After a while of conflict, the sense of division becomes a lot more present and is basically boiled down to a winners side versus a losers side.

Overall, the effects of war on humanity boil down to impacts on mental health, the division of people, the displacement of people, and finally the changing of morals. Be it resolved that war does impact humanity and can cause long term problems such as PTSD, depression, culture shock and worse.

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