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Children's crusade

August 7, 2016

Wars are absurd. World war II was more so in the sense that it was fought by people who had no place in it - school teachers, bakers, farmers, fishermen and fresh graduates - ranks and ranks of people enlisted as bullet fodder. These people who had no or little experience in handling a gun were like children in most respects. Thus it would not be wrong to call it a Children’s Crusade, as Kurt Vonnegut does in his novel ‘Slaughterhouse - Five’.

The propaganda of the time glorified enlisted men as heroes and unfortunate victims as martyrs, inspiring impressionable young men to enlist in search of an adventure. Once the first bullet whizzed past them, all the philosophy went right out of the window. All the mattered was their survival.

Most retellings of the war, paperbacks to movies in full 3D, are quixotic when they depict the soldiers of the Allied forces as brave men fighting a righteous war.

If we juxtapose this analogy to our lives too, aren’t we too part of a Children’s Crusade? As kids we always looked up to the achievements of great men and women. We decide to pursue our dreams but when we actually achieve them, all that remains in us is sense of accomplishment mingled with a tinge of disappointment. An example we can all relate to would involve the conundrum created by the brand-IIT. In contrast to the utopian IIT we had in mind before coming here, it would be a humble understatement to even admit that we weren’t disappointed after coming here. Since our idea of glory itself is a fallacy, we are bound to fail whenever we strive to achieve it. Our  sense of glory, hence gets clouded by the abominable lull created by this feeling of uneasiness.

As children, we are too innocuous to ask the right questions. Or even if we do, we are told never to ask such a question again. We believe whatever we are told. Once we grow up such questions become hackneyed and trite to the effect that we don’t bother what lies beyond those questions. Yet, sometimes we are left with no real choice but to keep living our old dreams that no longer make any sense. Life is in itself the war we must survive by contributing our part to society (be it by studying or by working for Thomso/Cognizance or whatever). In some way or the other we are playing our part in the Children’s Crusade.

The idea infesting the paragraphs above, being a product of a casual musing on part of some random minds in this campus is merely an observation of not much consequence at all. So, coming up with a conclusion has been a bit of a pain in the backside as they say. At the risk of straying from the topic, it is worth mentioning that few people do come and take world by storm forever changing the world. Looking at them, can we say that they too are a part of a Children’s Crusade? Maybe we haven’t seen much of the world or lack the intellectual means to realize the nature of the world. The world in itself can never be contained in as crude a philosophical observation as the Children’s Crusade.