I believe attention should also be payed to the effect that the Civil War, and war in general, has on society. Literature, as a professor put it, was a form of entertainment for the people of the past, akin to movies and TV shows for us. The Civil War was so traumatic that there was a shift in literature, from Romanticism, looking at the word through rosy glasses, to Realism, a depiction of life as it is. This professor, who happens to be in the English department, while going over Realism, said that the loss of human life in the Civil War was so high that there was no one who had not lost someone in it.
We can fast forward to the so called “Great War”, and again we find the same horrifying reaction. Society is so aghast at what has happened it calls the war, the “Great War” because it hasn’t seen anything like this death and killing, but then it becomes inured and we see civilian casualties shooting through the roof in the Second World War. In the documentary, Fog of War, it is mentioned that civilian casualties became acceptable. They even coined a new term for this, a nice little euphemism to cover up cold blooded murder, “collateral damage.”
My mother has often mentioned that “they” tried to get rid of her generation, and very few of them survived with their minds intact. The ones who didn’t lose it because of drugs, lost it because of Vietnam. My theory is that there is something about modern warfare that is inherently wrong and the soldiers know this deep down in themselves. This, I believe, is one of the reasons we see them so disturbed, and it is a shame that we don’t take care of them properly when we bring them back.
I am not saying war is evil or bad in and of itself. War has its place in society and benefits, like warding off harm or protection. However it must be done within certain boundaries. I think it interesting that societies claiming to be at the height of “progress”, instead of enforcing laws to prevent the murder of civilians, have deemed this an acceptable loss. How can you kill innocent people?