I stumbled across a quote while I was pondering war. It reads:

The fact of the matter is that war changes men’s natures. The barbarities of war are seldom committed by abnormal men. The tragedy of war is that these horrors are committed by normal men in abnormal situations, situations in which the ebb and flow of everyday life have departed and have been replaced by a constant round of fear, and anger, blood, and death. Soldiers at war are not to be judged by civilian rules, as the prosecution is attempting to do, even though they commit acts which, calmly viewed afterwards, could only be seen as unchristian and brutal. And if, in every war, particularly guerilla war, all the men who committed reprisals were to be charged and tried as murderers, court martials like this one would be in permanent session. Would they not? I say that we cannot hope to judge such matters unless we ourselves have been submitted to the same pressures, the same provocations as these men, whose actions are on trial.

A strange thing to ponder I know but war has always fascinated me; specifically its consequences for its combatants and those caught in the cross fire. This quote rung so true to me. It’s always bothered me when people judge soldiers according to normal standards. The quote here, from an Australian film called “Breaker Morant”, deals with this theme in a speech at the climax of movie by a character named Major J.F Thomas.

What he says is so true; not just in war but in life. We must be careful when we try to judge the abnormal through what we perceive to be the norm. It’s never that simple as “Breaker Morant” so successfully highlights here.

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