Just a bit of history repeating

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 Permalink

I recently watched the first series of a TV show called The 100 (pronounced ‘the hundred’). Essentially it’s a post-apocalyptic drama in which 100 juvenile offenders are sent to earth 97 years after a nuclear war rendered it uninhabitable. The remaining humans have been living on The Ark in space since before the war and, as they’re running out of oxygen, decide not to wait the century before returning to earth as originally planned.

the 100

The show centres around The 100 attempting to ‘settle’ on earth. They all know our history. They know what went wrong first time around and yet it’s obvious that they’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Although they’re the interlopers they wage war on those already inhabiting the earth—eschewing negotiation and peace for violence and control. They quickly move from home-made knives and machetes to guns and—before long—bombs.

I found myself wanting to shake these young people. The irony and futility of it all was almost too much. I was channelling Robert Burns and thinking about…

“Man’s inhumanity to man.”

But of course, I told myself, it was just a television show. It was fiction.

And then last weekend I came across a documentary about the World War I battle raged at Pozieres involving Australian soldiers. I was intrigued because my grandfather’s uncle was a man by the name of Duncan Chapman who was the first Australian soldier on the ground at Gallipoli. Despite our terrible losses there, Great (x2) Uncle Duncan survived Gallipoli, losing his life in August 1916 at a place in France called Pozieres during the Battle of the Somme.

Screen shot 2015-03-31 at 2.31.16 AM

* Documentary no longer available from original source. (You may need to search for it.)

I’d not heard of the place and if I’m really honest I know little about our World War I efforts. Like many, I struggle with the concept of war. While I appreciate the sacrifice of those who’ve fought and died for their country, the futility baffles me.

So I was surprised to find myself riveted to the 52 minute long documentary about the seven week period during which 23,000 Australians lost their lives.

Yes, that’s right. Twenty-three fucking thousand?! Five thousand here, six thousand there, one thousand this day, two thousand the next. Such losses today—for us here in Australia—are unimaginable. And at the end of that period, when we’d literally run out of enough men to fight, we’d gained a total of 10km.

Meanwhile back home the documentary touches on issues like conscription as well as the increasing sense that perhaps we should not even be involved in wars so far from home. Most frightening and something I did not know was the way we treated anyone of German descent. Essentially the men were rounded up and put into camps and later deported, often along with their wives and children. I was gobsmacked. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of deja vu in terms of society’s (current) treatment of muslims and those from the middle east.

Have we learned nothing in 100 years? I found myself asking again. And this time, unfortunately, it’s not a work of fiction.

Do you feel we (as a society) learn from our mistakes? 

Linking up with Essentially Jess and her IBOT team today.

* Please take the time to watch this documentary, written and directed by Wain Fimeri.

22 Comments
  • Renee Wilson
    March 31, 2015

    I definitely will take time to watch that thanks, Deb. I can’t believe we missed it because my husband is usually all over war documentaries. Thanks for the heads up.

    • Debbish
      March 31, 2015

      I’m the opposite to your hubby Renee so was surprised to find myself so outraged!

  • Bec @ History of Parenting
    March 31, 2015

    I’ve bookmarked it to watch tonight, thank you. And yes, apart from advances in technology, we do seem pretty much determined to never learn. #TeamIBOT

    • Debbish
      March 31, 2015

      Depressing isn’t it? I did wonder how I could do my little bit to contribute to the alternative.

  • Pinky Poinker
    March 31, 2015

    I think the Italians were rounded up too since they were on the German’s side. A lot of them changed their surnames to Anglicise them during World War 1. I hate docos about war but I force myself to watch them I sort of feel like I owe it to their memory.

    • Debbish
      March 31, 2015

      Ah yes, I think it’s mentioned in this that it became illegal to Anglicise names at the time.

      I don’t watch documentaries ever but this – though fairly low-tech – isn’t gory and features actors. Nadine Gardner, I think, narrates it.

  • Emma Fahy Davis
    March 31, 2015

    We studied WW1 in history class at school, and I remember feeling such a profound frustration at reading thru the events that lead to the Treaty of Versailles, I wanted to shake the books and say ‘you morons, don’t you know you are creating the perfect climate for a dictator to come in and initiate genocide?!’ And now I see the culture of fear that has built around ISIS spilling over into our communities and innocent, unconnected Muslims being persecuted simply because of their faith and like you, I can’t help but think here we go again…

    • Debbish
      March 31, 2015

      Oh absolutely Emma. There’s mention of a young Adolf Hitler in the documentary.

      PS. I should also mentioned I wondered / worried what became of the people of Pozieres before it was decimated in battle.

  • Grace
    March 31, 2015

    Oh, Deb…asking the hard questions today. I worry all the time about how as a society we keep making the same mistakes. Humans have this awful tendency to latch onto extremism and creating mass hysteria from it – Nazi’s, Ku Klux Klan and today, ISIS. It’s a sad state now and the past.

  • yinyangmother
    March 31, 2015

    Thanks Deb – I will watch the doco – it is shocking the losses we suffered in World War I – as a percentage of our population our losses were by far the worst of any of the nations involved. I’m also pretty aware of the treatment of Germans back home – my husband’s heritage is German and relatives of the great, great variety were caught up in the discrimination, even though they were just ordinary farmers.

  • EssentiallyJess
    March 31, 2015

    I read this article last year, which was written in the early 2000’s, and it predicted that we would move to a nazi camp type world again, but this time with Muslims. When I read it, I scoffed, but now, a few months later, I’m just not that sure…

  • Char
    April 1, 2015

    I’ve often struggled with the concept of Anzac Day and how it’s reported as brave men protecting our freedom when our freedom was never in question and we were over there fighting someone else’s war. I don’t doubt the bravery part. It’s the waste of life and futility of it all that I don’t cope well with.

    • Debbish
      April 1, 2015

      Oh absolutely Char! And I know it’s kill or be killed but—despite ‘their’ nationality—they’re still someone’s brother / son / father / daughter etc.

  • Jess
    April 1, 2015

    It is scary isn’t it sometimes, how far we have not come in some respects. War, genocide, the battle for power and control. Even the racism that seems to be socially acceptable in some cirlces horrifies me, all under pins the same attitudes and motivates violence.

    • Debbish
      April 1, 2015

      Yes – I wonder how we can make some advancements and not others. Guess the ‘important’ ones are about human nature which is harder to change!

  • Tegan Churchill
    April 1, 2015

    I don’t think we learn from our mistakes at all. Wars have been going on since the beginning of time and yet leaders still believe that violence and killing the enemy will fix everything. The trouble is that war is like one of those snakes with lots of heads from mythical times, you might kill the leader of the enemy…but behind them is 10 more people willing to step into his role.

  • Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me
    April 6, 2015

    Wow you have a WWI connection that’s quite special Deb. It’s a big year this one. I spoke to the families of 13 soldiers in WWI, wrote about their stories for a local newspaper, all heartbreaking. That TV series sounds intriguing but frustrating. As for learning from our mistakes, nup, because everyone is power hungry. I hope you’re safe and sound back home in HB and your drive from MB was uneventful, and said to hear no one threw their egg at you!

  • BoomingOn
    April 29, 2018

    Our ‘human’ behaviour is astounding at times and I do fear we’ll never learn to live a peaceful existence.. And those numbers of people who died in war battles as you mention – 2000 here, 10000 there! Omg, I often think that’s like all the people in my suburb, or all the people in a town. Horrific.

    • Debbish
      April 29, 2018

      I know… if people were killed in those sorts of numbers nowadays we’d be horrified. Now (thankfully) the occasional Aussie soldier killed overseas makes the news so losses in the thousands seems inexplicable!

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