History has gotten a bad rep. Mostly due to the education system at large, but a bad rep none the less. People don’t want to hear about the world that once was, the horrors people once did, the impacts that were left behind, the glory and lessons, people don’t want to hear about the past. It is the now that has taken over people’s obsessions and minds. Not to say there isn’t a lot going on that needs attention, but to say that history doesn’t matter is equally as false.
History is the now. We are living history. Not just for future generations, we are the example of history, of war. We are the faces of war, bringing me to my segue into the book by Martha Gellhorn. Published in 1959, The Face of War is a compilation of articles Gellhorn wrote as a war correspondent for various periodicals. From the Spanish Civil War, unrest in South America, political uprisings throughout the Caribbean, soldiers on beaches and in the sky, Gellhorn captures the ugly truth we don’t want to think about.
As citizens of private nations, of countries bordered up and politically secure, we feel calm. We’re reassured that our belongings are ours because we follow protocols that ensure they’re protected as our own. We’re reassured that no one will remove these possessions or protocols by things such as armies and navies.
And we ignore the fact that with that false protection that comforts us at night, a mother lost a child due to an attack on terror. Gellhorn captures that pain and terror, the tears and empathy, in straightforward color. The visuals are decadent and visceral. And they are truths, not only of the past, but of war as it is now. By reading the The Face of War, we relook at our world, the one we’ve accepted without really acknowledging or criticizing. It is a must read for anyone trying to be a global citizen, or just one fully aware of the world around them, the large world that it is, not just the bubble we singularly and selfishly care about.
Read The Face of War and then try to look at the world again.