Saturday, 20 October 2007

Why is war so popular?

I have had a fantastic day. It started with a trip to the $1 book sale, where Marie, my mum and I picked up some books on everything from organisational studies to beauty tips to Golda Meir's autobiography to a book about a lion tamer. Good stuff, and a good price!

Later we went to the mall and met Marie's mum and sister. Girl time! So I took the only reasonable course of action - said, "You'll find me in the bookshop" and spent hours reading captions of pictures.

It's interesting what you find interesting and absorbing when you relax. I gravitate to history.

Particularly, I looked at Alan Greenspan's new book, which has a humility of spirit about it that I like. Then I went on to New Zealand history, and found a lot of excellent photos that just summed up moments in our history. These are often familiar images to me, but they fascinate me still.

Then I started to tap a deep vein of war literature, particularly the world wars. This was in the New Zealand section, not the military history section. It was fascinating.

I don't know why, but I find it endlessly fascinating to contemplate the almost senseless bloodbath that was the century in which I was born. To look at the Nazis, to think of how much hope they must have initially offered to their people. To look at the beginning of the holocaust and see the depravity we can all sink to when evil attitudes and behaviour become normal. To look at Stalin and see ambition and drive gone far, far astray. To look at the British and think, yes, the British Empire did a lot of evil in its heyday and it deserved to fade into obscurity, but that at the same time Churchill was so right, that was their ... our ... finest hour. To look at New Zealand's history and think what a confused route we have taken, how there are no good guys and bad guys, but there are good and bad motives.

I guess it was a deep afternoon. And then I topped it off by buying some music - Bob Dylan's "The Times they are a-changing", "Slow Train Coming" and, to make sure I didn't get too serious... Sly and the Family Stone's Greatest Hits!

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