- Man, the lord of creation
- The difference between what we do and what we should do
- Two major divisions of ethics
- War and ethics
- Heinous acts committed in war in the name of national pride
- War, unmitigated evil born out of hatred and avarice
- War leading to racial degeneration
- War lowering the prestige of women
- Economic inequality caused by war
- Need to promote peace
“There is no trust No faith, no honesty in men; all perjured All forsworn, all naught, all dismembers”.(Shakespeare)
Man has been created in the best image. He is the Lord of creation. He has been blessed with intelligence, power of thinking and capacity to speak. He is a rational being. Man is neither a determinist, helpless being nor a fatalist as some think; but he is a free and responsible being. He is responsible and answerable for what he does. Man is great not by what he is but by what he does. Here comes in the importance of ethics.
“We are responsible to others and we are responsible for others. Once we realize this, there shall be paradise on earth”(Dostoveskey)
For a right-thinking man life is a great test. He has always to choose the antagonistic forces between good and evil, fair and foul, right and wrong, between the divine and the devilish path. Human beings can think; and as thoughts precede action, they are responsible for what they do. If the thoughts are good, the actions are bound to be good.
It is ethics, the science of morality that posses verdict on our actions. It is the philosophy behind man’s greatness and good reward and punishment. What we do and what we should do, are two different things. The ideal of ‘should’ is the real standard of morality. The test is in reasoning. A man steals but should he steal; a man tells lies but should he lie, men kill but should they kill? It is this sense of responsibility that distinguishes between the brutes and the human beings. Ethics governs both our individual and social life.
Ethics teaches the whole duty of man. It is the sole mistress of life, norm of good and .evils. All our thoughts and actions belong first and foremost to ethics. Our action may be good or bad; and all of them are moulded and judged by ethics. While sitting, standing, talking and working or even dreaming, we are serving or defying ethics. Shakespeare, in the quoted lines has derided man for defiance.
Ethics may be divided under two maiur heads:
- Personal ethics, which deals with the individual and the family
- State ethics, which treats of state and its institutions
State ethics may be further suu-divided into Politics and Economics. The two sections of ethics are inseparable and interdependent like a pair of scissors. Personal ethics rises and falls with state ethics and state ethics also varies with personal ethics.
Virtuous individuals (good society) create and maintain good political and economic institutions, and good institutions produce virtuous citizens. Personal ethics cannot flourish under evil institutions and noble institutions cannot exist among corrupt and degraded people. There is perpetual action and reaction between the individuals and the society. Personal and state ethics either rise or fall together. The rising waves of crimes and corruption in the present day society are a clear proof of this. Most of the social, economic and political ills and evils can be traced to deterioration and death of moral sense among the individuals and lack of ethical values in politics and economics – the greatest concerns of modern governments.
The idea of war cannot be ruled out under such unethical conditions. The famous Indian, Dr. Tagore calls this ethical sense as “dharam’ (duty, good use) and condemns modern civilization for its soullessness. War is a game of high politics. During war feelings run high, therefore, all attempts to stop war, have met with very little success. War cannot be justified on humanistic and moral grounds. As long as people are engaged in this shabby affair, they do not hesitate to commit most indecent and criminal acts. War is a negation of all ethical values – Love, friendship, kindness, respect, altruism and humanism.
The uncivilized races and the barbarians fought for superiority and survival and the fittest survived. The religious wars and crusades between the Muslims and the unbelievers were considered holy duty. Islam prohibits war (Jihad) except in self-defense. The kings and emperors attacked other lands for conquering and annexing them. The imperialists acted on the policy of extending their territories. The two Great Wars among the nations of the world were the result of greed for political and economic ascendancy.
The peoples and nations engaged in ‘Wars’ lose their reason and conscience and act like dogs and howling wolves. It is, infact a kind of homicidal insanity the malady of xenophobia (fear of foreigners), which causes man to run amock. What crimes are committed in the name of nationalism and patriotism? Nations engaged in this unethical affair attach more importance to military victories, political supremacy and economic success. Instead of living with love and peace, the contending nations take pride in mass killing, cruel bloodshed and indiscriminate destruction of property and other resources.
All religions have condemned these inhuman acts and excesses. But the warring nations have strange war philosophy. When they kill mercilessly and commit war excesses, they call it bravery, but when the enemy hit back and pays the same coins, it is called cruelty. Robert Southey’s poem’ The Battle of Blenheim’ wonderfully brings out the fact. The old man Kasper says:
With sword and fire was wasted far and wide;
And many a thousand bodies lay nothing in the sun;
When the field was won
National pride and rivalry breed war among nations. The armies, navies and air fleets are symbols of sovereignty. There may be states without schools and hospitals, without sanitation and clean water, but who have heard of a state without armed forces. As such nation has no regard for the welfare of the others, the citizens of each state consider it their duty to compete with those of all other states, not only in peaceful ways but also in murderous warfare. Ethics is thus annulled and repudiated, for the very first and most universal ethical precept is: “ Thou shalt and kill”. When murder is thus approved and glorified, other minor, sins are committed without compunction in war.
War among nations is an unmitigated evil born of avarice and hatred. It is an evil that feeds on evils. It has no rules, no ethics, for all is fair in love and war. War lets loose a reign of terror, an unending chain of crimes against humanity and women, destroys moral values and calls in the beast in man. In fact it is a very ancient and chronic malady in the politics of Humanity of deep-seated gangrene that has been eating into its vitals since the dawn of history. Its terrible consequences are not only shocking but also dynamic for moral values. War can be condemned on the following grounds.
It involves a tremendous loss of life. It does not spare even sick, old, weak, children and women. War is called ‘bestial’ but no beast is so cruel and pugnacious as man. Now a day’s war is crueler to the civilians who are helpless. The cream of the nation is destroyed in war.
War causes enormous loss of wealth and property, farms and factories, schools and other social institutions; even places of worship and hospitals are destroyed ruthlessly.
War is game of high-handedness, injustice and perpetuates cruelty and crimes both social and heinous war crimes. The records and the memoirs of the last two Great wars must make nations involved in wars, ashamed of themselves.
War leads to racial degeneration. It claims the flower of the nation as its victim. Young, able-bodied and promising men are killed in war. Sex crimes are generally at their peak during and after the war. It is on record that more than eighty thousand German young women lost their parents and husbands in the second Great War. There was nobody to support or claim them. They spread all over Europe and destroyed the moral fabric of the nations. Professor David Starr has shown that war is anti-biological and dysgenic in effect on the population. A warlike nation is like man who is constantly losing precious blood. In fact war is a slow suicide for every nation.
War lowers the position and prestige of the women. The qualities that win success in war are courage and brutality. During the Great War and the Viet Nam War, the overwhelming foreign soldiers in Japan and Viet Nam committed heinous crimes against the members of the fair sex. The soldiers try to keep up their spirit by indulging in woman and wine. Women’s love, self-denial, purity, temperance, intelligence, gentleness, aesthetic sensibility and moral fervor are suppressed and smothered by war. What a loss to Humanity! The condition of Iraqi’s and Afghani’s after the invasion of America is clear crystal of the utility of arms.
War is inimical to Democracy and liberty, and tends to establish despotism and bureaucracy in the state. All the creative activities suffer and come to stand still during the war, as the whole attention is concentrated on war preparations. During a war, press is censured and the rights of free speech and public meetings are encroached upon. The people at the helm, the politicians are so engrossed in the fighting exercises that they care very little for the public good. Every citizen must fight against his will or must court punishment. War is, indeed, the very negation of liberty.
War increases economic inequality within the state. In fact war is drag on national exchequer. In the long run it makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. It worsens the relative. position of common people for all times. People are called upon to make all sacrifices for the great game. It strangles the national economy. War always produces a debased proletariat class and ends in misery degradation and demoralization.
War prevents and delays social and political reforms. The money spent on armament and military forces leaves behind very little for schools, hospitals, old-age benefits, houses and development programs. War Budget is always an encroachment on the civil rights and privileges of the people.
There is nothing to mitigate the atrocities and horrors of war. The people engaged in war have no moral scruples, no pity and kindness, no mercy, no sense of justice, no goodness of character, no sense of truth and above all no fear of God. Its main organs are rumour and propaganda.
In conclusion, it can be said war is a foolish folly, a catalog of crimes, an unpardonable sin, a deadly disaster, a medical madness, a horrible high handedness an irreparable loss of moral values, and a callous catastrophe. It is indeed murder of humanity and blight on human civilization. The greatness and good of mankind does not consist in derogating and destroying others but in elevating and ennobling others. So let peace prevail in the world. The victories of peace are not less than the victories of war.