Reading for Friday, 26 December
So, as I said earlier, I’m assuming that I didn’t have to read a chapter on Christmas Day (though with my skipping of days, that’s a bit all over the place.)
I really like this chapter, because it turns from a big gung-ho action sequence into a moving revelation, when Nikolai realises that the French soldier he has caught is terrified, frightened – in a word, a human being.
One of the things that worries me immensely about today’s culture, is that if you watch the vast majority of war movies, the enemy is always portrayed as just the person you’re shooting at. You don’t know anything about their background, and so they’re either portrayed as being horrendously ugly, one-dimensionally evil or – if it’s a WWII film – unable to speak English. With this kind of black and white view of war, then there’s always a good guy and a bad guy, and it’s as simple as that.
The problem is that war isn’t like that, and that the other side have stories and emotions of their own. I think we desensitise ourselves from war far too often. I’m not a complete pacificist, but I worry about dehumanising our enemies.