War is complicated

With the wisdom I gained as I grow older, the one thing that I have learned is that nothing is black and white.

Last Friday, I lazily responded to a former colleague’s judgement of why a company was going downhill. “Politics,” I said. “Isn’t it politics? People just can’t agree on a decision.”

He looked at me and shook his hand, “It’s so much more complicated than that.”

Then he went into the old processes vs. new processes. The wrong fit for recently hired people. The quality of the staff. The lack of focus in the company. The priorities in the wrong place. It is complicated.

Likewise, war is complicated. Like how people are complicated. Like how a breakup is complicated. We think something is bad or good based on opinion that we may or may not have. (Everyone has an opinion of war even if they have never experienced one.) We say “drop that loser!” so easily to a betrayed one when the complexity involves a deep indescribable relationship, the kids, the house, the personalities of both parties. When in reality, it’s really about defining boundaries and setting expectations. The hardest part is to decide what to do when boundaries are crossed and expectations are mismatched. In truth, there are no right or wrong answers.

So why is it that some people think war is so simple? That if war happens, that it is absolute. That if war doesn’t happen, that it is absolute. Humans are of a nature that naturally seeks blame. It’s the most difficult thing to let blame slide, because our existence may not matter. This is why religion exists—to make sense of this complicated world. That is why we call each other names and throw insults, because it’s easier that way than to accept responsibility. That is why we find it tough to forgive.

In (good) movies and TV—the ones that tell stories of blame, I learned that the wrong thing to do is to war because of pain. Today, I learned that from the apes.

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