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The Horrors of War
Chance; and how it pertains to war
War will cast a dark shadow over any man; but is it a surprise? In the novel All Quiet on The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, the dreadfulness of war has all been conceived and there is nothing but pure agony in the head of all soldiers. Every common soldier will see countless horrors in his time on duty. It’s not about the horrors of war, it’s about how they respond to them. For some, the worst part of being a soldier is life outside of war. Some feel that outside of war is merely pointless. In Chapter Six of All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul is reflecting on how his previous trenches, where all prior to now seemed to be peaceful; yet, were blown to smithereens and dug up.
“It is just as much a matter of chance that I am still alive as that I might have been hit. In a bombproof dug-out I may be smashed to atoms and in the open may survive ten hours' bombardment unscathed. No soldier outlives a thousand chances. But every soldier believes in Chance and trusts his luck.”
Paul feels that chance is the reason he is still alive. That his fate is in the hands of another, sheer chance. Perhaps in a soldier's mind, coming into the war, a common misconception may be that they feel as though they control their fate: when in actuality, it is just luck. “The front is a cage in which we must await fearfully whatever may happen.” The uncertainty of not having control of your fate may be the most daunting horror that any soldier will face. The most unyielding part of war is the fact that it’s never in your hands.
In war, it's all you have
In war, you don’t fight for yourself, you fight for your family, your country, but most importantly, the men who stand and lay alongside you. In the novel All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, comradeship plays a major role as Paul and his company have nothing but their comrades to rely on. Comradeship is vital for anything, in particular, war. Wars are not fought alone, rather fought with the brothers beside you. In Chapter 8, After a bombardment, Paul hears his closest comrades talking in the distance and instantly becomes calm. Paul realizes how much he really needs them in times of distress:
“I am no longer a shuddering speck of existence, alone in the darkness;—I belong to them and they to me; we all share the same fear and the same life, we are nearer than lovers, in a simpler, a harder way; I could bury my face in them, in these voices, these words that have saved me and will stand by me.”
Paul reflects on how he and his comrades are so conjoint and that they have been through the thick of it hand in hand. Paul feels like he owes something greater than life to his comrades. War has brought Paul and his company so close together, his comrades' voices are more than motherliness to him. The war has decayed Paul so much, that his comrades are really all that matter to him, their voices are more to me than life. War forces opposites to hate, and equivalents to love.
I am writing this letter to you to discuss the tragedy I underwent not long ago. I volunteered to drag myself into the dreadful No Man’s Land in an attempt to collect some information about the enemy’s strength. On my way back from the wretched journey I got myself into I suddenly became adrift and lost track of where I was. Suddenly, a bombardment began, I knew an attack was incoming. At a loss of thought, I came to the realization that I must sprawl and act as if I was deceased, so I crawled into the shell hole and waited eagerly until the attack was bygone. As I was waiting, an enemy soldier jumped into the shell hole from above right beside him, seeing as it was life or death, without hesitation I stabbed him. By that time it was way too light outside to make my way back safely, I was forced to remain confined into the shell hole with a dead body. As I waited patiently for dusk, I noticed the French soldier was not deceased. In the back of my mind the fact that in this war it’s either us or them, although the power of humanity and the humane thing to do overpowered that thought. That being said I gave the soldier bandages as well as water in an attempt to heal his wounds. As I not only waited patiently for nightfall so I could safely make the journey home but I also waited several hours for the soldier to succumb to his fate. This was my first time not only engaging in hand to hand combat, but also killing someone while doing so. Ethan, I cannot imagine you will ever understand the extent of the hardship I went through today. I have faced many adversities in my time being a soldier, but none quite to the extent of this. He had a family! I stripped that of him. A wife, child, they assume their loved one will return back from war and all will be restored. No, because of me. Because of me they lost their father, because of me she lost her husband; but the roles could have been reversed. In these life-or-death situations you never really know who you are. When it's life or death, there isn't much you wouldn't really do. Am I saying my actions are justified; I don't really know. Although, it was me versus him. Sadly, one of us had to go. By seeing a man fall in front of my eyes, at my own expense, I can't help but realize how drastically war has changed me. I am no longer the man I was when I stepped out onto the battlefield. I came in just a boy; I left a man.
We Are All Human After All
In times of darkness, humanity will shine through
~ G.K. Chesterton
The enemy is human too. In Chapter Eight of the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, Paul gets to see the enemy Russian troops incarcerated in a nearby POW camp. He comes to the conclusion that these enemy troops are not as bad as they were thought out to be, for after all, they are human. When Paul identified the Russians troops in confinement, he says: “They look just as kindly as our own peasants in Friesland.” Paul realizes the other side is just like him and his comrades, but “How little we understand one another.” Just because the Russians are the enemy, even though they are human too. Paul realizes after the carnage and destruction that his company has inflicted upon the Russian soldiers, the sole way he may be able to live with himself after all is said and done, is to give the Russians an act of kindness, in the form of a cigarette:
“My heart beats fast: this is the aim, the great, the sole aim, that I have thought of in the trenches; that I have looked for as the only possibility of existence after this annihilation of all human feeling; this is a task that will make life afterward worthy of these hideous years. I take out my cigarettes, break each one in half and give them to the Russians.”
Paul has noticed many compelling things about the Russians in his days at the camp on the moors. When Paul is describing the Russians, he notes: “It is strange to see these enemies of ours so close up. They have faces that make one think — honest peasant faces,”. Throughout the story Paul feels as though the Russians are this unspeakable enemy, that they simply cannot be in relation with; however, he is quick to realize that these Russian troops are quite similar to him. Once Paul sees humanity in these troops, he feels as though he needs to do a good deed to make him feel less remorse for all the havoc that his company has wreaked. Oftentimes Paul watches over the Russians at night. Even though Paul can only catch a glance at their shadow, he is still able to grasp the fact that they are still human, and if his role were reversed, they could have even been his comrades. “A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our friends.” Paul realizes if he was not enlisted as a soldier for Germany, he could have even befriended the Russians. Paul also comes to a more broad conclusion, if the one command which split these two sides apart was never put to action, the Russians would have never been the horrendous enemy they were thought to be. In war times, things can get rather frantic; however, humanity will always shine through.
Life as a Soldier
The Physical and Emotion Toll of War
War does not determine who is right - only who is left
~ Bertrand Russell
When it comes to war; the emotional casualty at times is greater than the physical. In the story, All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque the mental destruction and the physical bloodshed are disclosed in a way that allows the reader to have a complete awareness of the absurdity and consequences of war. In Chapter Six the insanity of war is displayed in eventful scenes that depict the true capability that war has on your physical state; however, in Chapter Seven, the horrors of war take on a new form which is the emotional toll that war takes outside the battlefield. The main character, Paul Baumer, who is also the narrator of the novel tries to operate in his daily life whilst still feeling the emotional emptiness that is a direct result of war. In the midst of Chapter Six at around noontime, Paul and his company decide to ascend from the trenches and form an opposing attack upon the French army.
We have become wild beasts. We do not fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation. It is not against men that we fling our bombs, what do we know of men in this moment when Death is hunting us down--now, for the first time in three days we can see his face, now for the first time in three days we can oppose him; we feel a mad anger. No longer do we lie helpless, waiting on the scaffold, we can destroy and kill, to save ourselves, to save ourselves and to be revenged. [Chapter Six]
After the horrors of war were explained in detail through scenes of tiresome warfare that took hold of a good majority of Chapter Six, in Chapter Seven Paul is given leave for 17 days, and with that, he returns home to his mother and father as they are eager for news and tails about the war; on the contrary, in Chapter Seven, Paul comes to the realization that he is no longer the man he was when he left for war, for his mind has been altered immensely. The adjustment mentally in Chapter Seven is a recurring theme. He feels as though the relationship he once had with his family prior to war has faded, it's as if he came out on the other side as a “man”.
I ought never to have come here. Out there I was indifferent and often hopeless; I will never be able to be so again. I was a soldier, and now I am nothing but an agony for myself, for my mother, for everything that is so comfortless and without end.[Chapter Seven]
The tragic scenes of Chapter Six were extremely cruel and gruesome; however, the emotional conflict that transpired during Chapter Seven was more atrociously horrifying except displayed in a different manner. In Chapter Six, Paul is in the midst of war, as he is desperately trying to save his comrades, whilst fighting for his own survival; yet in Chapter Seven, Paul has lost any hope in retrieving his soul, the connections that he once had with his family have vanished, for he has nothing left; except war. Once the physical and mental cost of war has unraveled, life outside of war seems near pointless to the soldier's eye.
The Electoral College
The abolishment is vital
“The Electoral College needs to go, because it’s made our society less and less democratic”
~ Pete Buttigieg
Every person deserves an equal say over who rules their nation. The Electoral College is unfair, in that, not every vote counts equal to the final say. Through time, it has remained as the prominent deciding factor in who is Elected into office. The Electoral College is outdated and during its creation was never intended to be what it is today. It is a corrupt, unjust system that must be put to an end. In this essay, I will discuss exactly why the abolishment of the Electoral College is vital to the equality of American citizens.
Fenn vs Applewild
The thirds basketball gold team left Fenn at around 2:30 for a game against Applewild, little did they know this would be the most tiresome game of their life.
A few minutes into the game the Fenn School went up by 10 points which caused Apple wild to use their first time out. At the time, the game was going smoothly with a good amount of aggression, although nothing got too out of hand. As Applewild returned to the court from their time out, the Fenn sideline had a lot of chatter about a 6 foot player stepping on the court on the Applewild side. He was physically imposing to a good majority of the Fenn roster, which is a very frightening sight, especially on a basketball court. Alongside the 6 foot Applewild guard were two other six-foot players. Seeing as the Fenn roster was not the biggest, Fenn knew this was going to be a long game.
Even though there was such a size disparity between the two rosters, Fenn was able to keep this game in reach, and sometimes even take the lead, even though Applewild players we’re getting a little hostile. For instance, after a play in the second half was completely dead, a player on Applewild threw the basketball, on purpose, at the back of the neck of a Fenn player. Even though it was so obvious that it was on purpose, there was no call by the referee, nor was there condemnation by the coach of the player. Another example of extreme aggression would be after a Fenn guard passed the ball, an Applewild player intently shoved a smaller Fenn guard to the ground causing him to crawl off the court with a rolled ankle. Even the referee of the game was being rather disrespectful with the Fenn coach and players.
It was evident that the Fenn players were just here to play basketball but were not going to allow people to just be flat out disrespectful to their coach. Even a player on Applewild said something that seemed as if it was rather disrespectful to the Fenn coach. Fenn was sick and tired, which is why when a Fenn player was a little frustrated with a call made by the referee he spoke up, and the response by the referee was simply just “shut up”.
Fenn was tired, upset, frustrated, and most importantly disrespected. The Fenn team, as a whole, was extremely resilient. Fenn was able to take so many late hits after the whistle, so many unspeakable comments by the opposing team, and in general so much bad sportsmanship by Applewild. Fenn may have lost by one basket in the end, but the resilience they gained will last a lifetime.
By Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
An Exploration of the Seasons
Make your life a haiku: simple, elegant, and full of meaning.
- Francine Joy
The Power of Community
Brings people together
“Community is about doing something together that makes belonging matter”
- Brian Solis
A complete community can consume your life; for the better. A community like Fenn, which I hold near and dear to my heart, has been a significant part of my life. Fenn has greatly impacted me as a person. Entering Fenn as an unassuming little 4th grader to now, in my final year at Fenn, left as a young man ready for high school.
It was a vague distant memory, for when I was just a little boy in the 4th grade. I remember me and a few of my buddies gathered in the first row of Ward Hall for the day’s early morning all-school meeting. All school meetings are a routine at the Fenn School, which before COVID-19 would happen routinely. On this particular morning, I had not a worry in sight, for I had an open mind going into my first all-school meeting as a Fenn scholar. The head of the school, who at the time was Mr. Ward, told the community to open our song books. Mr. Salvatore began playing a tune on the piano which I had never heard before.
In a matter of seconds, the community began singing in harmony. The fourth graders, seeing as they have never done this before, turned around in awe. I did not know what to make of it. This was completely and utterly new to me. But seconds after the school joined together in harmony I felt a sense of warmth and comfort. I’ve never really experienced something quite like this. The faculty, upper school, middle school and lower school; joined together, as one.
Before my time here at Fenn, I feel as though there has been a void that had not yet been filled. The bonds and relationships I have created over my time here at Fenn I will truly value for the rest of my life. My individual relationship with each and every faculty and student at the school is unique and I cherish each and every one of them, for it is the relationships that I built here at Fenn that make for such a wholesome community.
Everyone needs something worth more than themselves; for me, its community.
“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort”
- Jane Austen
The simplest places in actuality can have the most beauty. For me, this would be the living room in my basement. At the end of a long and demanding day at school or a fun and enthusiastic day at summer camp there is nothing like the living room in my basement.