War is the law of life and eternal peace a dream. Life means struggle and struggle is another name for war. A land of eternal peace would be a land of sloth, inactivity and ennui-like the world of the Lotos-Eaters. An empty mind is the Devil’s workshop and such a world would soon become a hot-bed of mutual bickering and jealousies, family feuds such as prevail among the savages. For the natural process of evolution which is going on in the world, for a just struggle for existence, we would have constant fights, ugly quarrels about trifles and an atmosphere of jealousy and ill-will.
War has been in existence ever since the world began. In spite of its frequent recurrence, mankind has managed to get along. In fact, it has always been in periods of struggle that man made his advance in social, political and economic spheres. War typifies and embodies physically that aspect of battle which belongs to all life, in a world whose method is a meeting and wrestling of forces which progress by mutual destruction.
That world may progress, war is essential. A land of eternal peace would be a land of stagnation. The blessings that peace confers on a land depend for their usefulness on war. “All the pure and noble arts of peace,” says Ruskin, “are founded on war; no great art ever yet rose on earth, but among a nation of soldiers.” There is no art among a shepherd people, if it remains t peace. There is no art among an agricultural people, if it remains at peace. There is no great art possible to a nation but that which is based on battle.
Of course, war has its destructive side, and some wars are conducted for plunder, aggrandizement, or on account of the intoxication of military power. Such wars cannot be too highly condemned. “The creative or foundational war.” according to Ruskin, “is that in which the natural restlessness and love of contest among men are disciplined by consent, into modes of beautiful—though it may be fatal—play; in which the natural ambition and love of power of men are disciplined into the aggressive conquest of surrounding evil; and in which the natural instincts of self-defence are sanctified by the nobleness of the institutions and purity of the households which they are appointed to defend. To such war as this all men are horn in such war as this any man may happily die and forth from such war as this have risen, throughout the extent of past ages, all the highest sanctities and virtues of humanity.”
So long as man is imperfect-and he will remain so ‘this side of the tomb’ be must struggle and suffer until perfection is achieved. No sooner he stops the struggle than his progress towards perfection becomes stationary. Peace, no doubt, we all desire, but not the peace comes stationary. Peace, no doubt, we all desire, but to the peace enjoyed by the Lotos-Eaters. We cannot subscribe to their opinion;
“What pleasure can we have
To war with evil? Is there any peace
In ever climbing up the climbing wave?
All things have rest, and ripen towards the grave
In silence; ripen, fall and cease
Give us long rest or death, or dreamful ease.”