All Echoes on the western front.

The novel All quiet on the western front written by Erich Maria Remarque shows us an intriguing side of World War 1, as instead of emphasizing the “Valour” and “Bravery” shown by the soldiers in running at machine guns to get themselves shot; it shows us the reality of war, how brutal and traumatizing the truth of war is. In chapter three, Remarque writes through Paul “I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how people are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.” (pp. 263) this really puts into perspective what Paul has been conditioned to think, about how the French and British are monsters whose only want in life is to kill him. There is some truth in that, that they will kill him given the chance, but that doesn’t make them inherently evil. 

In chapter 8, Paul reflects that “ [the Russian prisoners] have faces that make one think –honest peasant faces …  [the Russian prisoners] look just as kindly as our own peasants in Friesland.” (pp. 190) this passage really shows how dehumanized people on the other side of a conflict are to each other. It is strange to think about nowadays when everyone can access the thoughts of everyone else through the internet, befriend people across the world without ever meeting them, and find millions of facts through a quick google search, but this still happens today. Take for example pretty much any argument between democrats and conservative people in America right now; the democrats have one view on a topic or person, and they share this online, other democrats agree with this person and throw positive reinforcement right back at them, creating an echo chamber where everyone has the same ideas about that person or topic. The problem with echo chambers is eventually, the echo becomes just a little bit distorted, then a bit more, and so on and so forth until the idea becomes more and more radical than what it started at. Once an idea reaches a certain point, it starts being less about whatever that idea was originally about, and more and more about stopping the opposite point of view from existing. If you don’t agree that that can happen to both sides at the same time try replacing democrat with conservative. When this happens in war, however, it becomes that much worse as the other side is the side that is quite literally trying to kill you.

 

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