Just mind­less de­struc­tion

Whanganui Midweek - - NEWS - With Paul Brooks

In just a few days’ time we mark ex­actly 100 years since the end of the “war to end all wars”.

We gave it a num­ber — 1. As far as world wars go, it was the first in a se­ries, so far only up to two, but who knows what the fu­ture will bring.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns in Europe fell silent and the mas­sacre ceased. It was a hor­ri­ble, vi­cious con­flict, in which mil­lions of peo­ple died in ter­ri­ble ways to ad­vance the po­lit­i­cal and fi­nan­cial for­tunes of a few. If that sounds like an anti-war state­ment . . . of course it is! Does any­one still truly be­lieve that war is a so­lu­tion to any­thing?

Just 21 years af­ter the end of World War I, its se­quel be­gan. A dif­fer­ent cast — mostly, a sim­i­lar plot and the same poorly writ­ten script filled with ex­plo­sions, gun­fire and death. Some say it wasn’t an­other war at all, but a con­tin­u­a­tion of the first one fol­low­ing a brief pause.

For the past four years the me­dia has pub­lished much from 100 years ago and had a good, hard look at the 1914-18 war. We re­lived Gal­lipoli and read let­ters from front-line sol­diers caught in the night­mare.

We’ve had the­atri­cal pro­duc­tions, art ex­hi­bi­tions, mu­seum ex­hibits, pod­casts and tele­vi­sion spe­cials, each look­ing at a dif­fer­ent facet of the war.

I hope this whole com­mem­o­ra­tion ex­er­cise wasn’t purely for en­ter­tain­ment or solely out of his­tor­i­cal cu­rios­ity, but a les­son. Un­for­tu­nately, it was not a les­son learned by our fore­bears who be­gan the ac­tion re­play in 1939, but it might serve a pur­pose now.

Apart from a few who made their for­tunes in mu­ni­tions and as­so­ci­ated war sup­plies, there were no win­ners, not re­ally. But ev­ery coun­try that took part suf­fered losses that can never be re­gained. In­di­vid­ual hu­man lives can not be re­cov­ered by new breed­ing. Through­out ev­ery war in his­tory we have lost great minds, huge in­tel­lects, mas­sive cre­ativ­ity and beau­ti­ful per­son­al­i­ties to the un­car­ing bomb or bul­let. Ge­nealo­gies have been for­ever al­tered and whole gen­er­a­tions of fam­i­lies never hap­pened.

De­spite ev­ery ef­fort made by peo­ple who want to see change, wars will con­tinue and peo­ple will still die be­fore their time. The les­sons are eas­ily and soon for­got­ten as new gen­er­a­tions ar­rive with no mem­ory of what war is like or how stupid it is. And so it hap­pens again, no mat­ter who ar­gues against it.

This Sun­day, as we re­mem­ber the end of the war to end all wars, spare a thought for those who per­ished, cer­tainly, but also for those yet to be killed and maimed in all the wars to come. For those who are suf­fer­ing in con­flicts now, the war to end all wars has yet to be fought.

Poor Lun­don Park, in par­tic­u­lar, the Reg An­drews Play Area.

A lot of fundrais­ing, far too much red tape and plenty of vol­un­teer labour went into the play area in Castle­cliff. As well as the usual play­ground at­trac­tions, a toi­let block was built and a skate­bowl lov­ingly de­signed for lo­cal chil­dren.

Soon, the toi­let block and skate­bowl will be no more.

Some will protest and in­sist the Whanganui Dis­trict Coun­cil does more, but what can they do when de­struc­tive mo­rons keep un­do­ing the good work?

The skate­bowl is at the end of its life , but the toi­let block has been the tar­get of re­peated at­tacks by peo­ple of no con­science, no imag­i­na­tion and no un­der­stand­ing of “com­mu­nity”.

They may be “vic­tims” of cir­cum­stance but why do they in­sist on mak­ing this con­ta­gious? They have de­stroyed a com­mu­nity as­set too of­ten for it to sur­vive any longer and ru­ined the park for oth­ers. There is no point try­ing to re­pair and main­tain some­thing that will con­tinue to be at­tacked for no good rea­son other than the warped plea­sure of de­struc­tion.

PIC­TURE / PAUL BROOKS

Lun­don Park with the skate­bowl in the fore­ground and the toi­let block at right.

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