War and Peace

Over the weekend our country has commemorated the 100th anniversary of what is referred to as the August Offensive on the Gallipoli Peninsular in World War I. On Thursday night a special memorial service was broadcast live from the Lone Pine Memorial and even the Bledisloe Cup match between the Wallabies and the All Blacks featured a special acknowledgement of this aspect of Australia’s military history (although one of Channel 10’s commentators referred to the Last Post ringing out in the background as remembering the commencement of the Gallipoli campaign!!).

The August offensive included the battle of Lone Pine and the battle of The Nek, made famous by the movie Gallipoli starring a young Mel Gibson. Both involved great loss of life, on the ANZAC and Turkish sides in the case of Lone Pine but mainly ANZACs at the Nek.

Like so many battles in war, those at Gallipoli in August 1915 remind us of the stupidity and absurdity of war. The Battle of The Nek, along with the Battle of Fromelles on the Western Front in 1916, involved the terrible slaughter of men for no useful purpose. The impact it had on the families and friends of those who were killed as well as those who were casualties was felt for generations in  Victoria and Western Australia, the homeland of most of the Light Horse troops involved.

At the same time that we remember these events of World War I, the people of Japan commemorate the devastation and loss of life caused by the dropping of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the closing days of World War II.

Whilst the causes of these wars and all wars throughout history, including current conflicts, are complex and varied, it is interesting to note that Religion is often cited as one of these causes.

 This weekend we were reminded in St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians of the message that Jesus brings to each of us, a guide for harmonious co- existence that, if taken to heart, would dissuade potential perpetrators of war.

“Never have grudges against others, or lose your temper, or raise your voice to anybody, or call each other names, or allow any spitefulness. Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily, as God forgave you in Christ”.

The tragedy of war is that so often it involves peoples who proudly profess their belief in God whilst devising the most terrible weapons of mass destruction and deploying them to devastating effect.

 As we remember the events of Lone Pine, The Nek, Hiroshima and Nagasaki let us pray that the message of the Gospel , of God’s love, of peace and love for mankind will infiltrate the hearts and minds of those in positions of power and influence in our world.

Ray Collins Image
Ray Collins

Ray Collins is the Director of Schools within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. He is an authority on education issues.

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