Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The bell tolls for no one but thee

Dr Abe V Rotor

For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.
One man dies and a little in me dies, too.
And if a thousand, more so a million die,
For no reason, brothers but hatred, oh,
I’d rather die in the battlefield, too. (AVR)

Genghis Khan

A young scholar, Mr Juan Torre, gave a lecture on world history in a local school where he finished high school.

“Two thousand five hundred years ago Alexander, the Great, set to conquer the world at a very young age.”

He was looking at the junior and senior students who comprised the audience. He remembered where he was seated some years in a similar lecture during his time. A smile broke on his boyish face before he continued. “The young warrior climbed to the top of the highest hill of Alexandria in Greece and gazed over the horizon. With a huge army he inherited from his father he conquered city after city, country after country, and joined them into the biggest empire the world had ever seen.”

The speaker paused and said, “I’m sure you must have known from your readings, or on the TV and movie screen, the adventurers of the great Macedonian.”

The audience nodded, indeed a positive response.

The speaker continued, “One thousand years after, Genghis Khan rode across Asia and annexed much of China and neighboring tribes to his homeland Mongolia. Earlier and not far away, the barbarian Attila, the Hun led an army that plundered Middle Asia, and pushed deep into the borders of Christian Rome.”

“In the 17th century Napoleon Bonaparte of crowned dictator of France subdued the whole of Western Europe except England. Then towards the middle of the twentieth century Germany’s Hitler and Italy’s Mussolini conquered Europe, while Japan invaded and annexed much of Asia in the guise of Co-Prosperity Sphere.”

“What happened to these adventurers of history?” The brilliant speaker asked the students? Getting no answer he paused and proceeded. He took the microphone off its stand and walked down the middle aisle of the full packed hall.

“Alexander died without seeing the fruits of his conquest. Genghis Khan died from mortal wounds inflicted by an enemy from his own race. Attila mysteriously died before he could enter the gates of Rome. Napoleon lost in the Battle of Waterloo and died in exile. Hitler and Mussolini met tragic deaths. Japan lost hundreds of thousands of lives from two atomic bombs dropped on two cities – and there are still people dying from radiation to this day after 45 years.”

The room was silent. The speaker’s voice came afresh, “History warns us of man’s inhumanity to man in war. When put together wars have caused the death of millions of people and untold sufferings of survivors. War stops the clock of progress.”

The speaker cleared his throat and continued, “War is the greatest test on human endurance, how society rebuilds itself, and how values triumph. At the end, freedom and peace prevail.”

There was an air of confidence from the young scholar. “Yes, freedom and peace will always prevail,” he repeated in a low voice.

A hand slowly rose at the back and Carla, in thick eyeglasses, asked, “When will there be peace in Afghanistan and in Iraq?” And now, in Ukraine?

"How about the people's revolution now spreading across North Africa and the Middle East - when will peace be restored?" seconded Jun, a dean's lister, now a senior.

If you were Mr Juan Torre, the speaker, what would be your answer?

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