Press-Republican

Editorial

June 20, 2014

Editorial: Important lesson still unlearned

As we leave the nostalgia of the 70th anniversary of D-Day and regard the frightening developments in our seemingly futile conflict in Iraq, are there any lessons to be learned?

There seems to be little ideologically to connect World War II and the War in Iraq. One was a quest by evil people to conquer the planet; the other, a quest for religious domination.

One could argue that those goals are not that much different. Both involve the forceful seizure of individual rights.

When one group seeks to rip personal choices from another, human rights are often lost by those without the physical power to keep them.

At the end of World War II, one of iconic comedian Jack Benny’s radio programs included a reminder that mankind is a community of men and women with a common interest — freedom to choose their own destinies.

The weekly show, aired Dec. 23, 1945, was filled with familiar hilarity — the stingy, self-absorbed Benny hosting his neighbors, British classical actors Ronald and Benita Colman, for a pre-Christmas dinner.

After nearly a half hour of laughs, the show turns serious, as Colman offers an expression of hope for humanity still in the shadow of global war:

“I propose a toast to the world — a world which has just survived the bloodiest and costliest of all human conflicts. A world which was so nearly led back to the dark ages of oppression and slavery by cruel and greedy men who traded in hate.

“It seems impossible that there could be any more suffering than mankind has just endured. But it is possible, and it will happen if we lose sight of the lessons so bitterly learned.

“Let us remember that men everywhere are our neighbors. And their right to life and freedom is as precious to them as ours is to us.

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Editorial