Category Archives: Benjamin Franklin

Never a good war

Once again it is Veterans Day.

My thoughts turn to my father and grandfather who served in the past two world wars. War is not an easy thing to discuss. It is paid for with human lives and often achieves very little. It is always tragic for those for pay the supreme sacrifice and for their families and love ones.

Sometimes, however, war becomes a necessary thing.

War is not something to be taken lightly or to be engaged in without deep thought and consideration. The price is never paid by those who make the decision to enter war. The price is paid by the patriotic men and women who selflessly serve their country. We may put up monuments to their lives, but that should never be enough.

We should act to make their sacrifice worthwhile.

Remember what Benjamin Franklin said in a letter written in 1783:

“Never was there a good war or bad peace.”
“Jamais une bonne guerre ou une mauvaise paix.”

Franklins’s full statement from War and Peace, is as follows:

I JOIN with you most cordially in rejoicing at the return of peace. I hope it will be lasting, and that mankind will at length, as they call themselves reasonable creatures, have reason enough to settle their differences without cutting throats; for, in my opinion, there never was a good war or a bad peace. What vast additions to the conveniences and comforts of life might mankind have acquired, if the money spent in wars had been employed in works of utility! What an extension of agriculture, even to the tops of the mountains; what rivers rendered navigable, or joined by canals; what bridges, aqueducts, new roads, and other public works, edifices and improvements, rendering England a complete paradise, might not have been obtained by spending those millions in doing good, which in the last war have been spent in doing mischief—in bringing misery into thousands of families, and destroying the lives of so many working people, who might have performed the useful labors.

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Je m’associe avec vous la plus cordiale allégresse en réjouissant du retour de la paix. J’espère qu’elle durera, et que l’humanité finira par se raisonner, comme ils se disent des créatures raisonnables, pour régler leurs querelles sans couper la gorge; Car, à mon avis, il n’y a jamais eu une bonne guerre ni une mauvaise paix. Quels agrandissements aux convenances et aux conforts de la vie pouvaient avoir les hommes, si l’argent dépensé dans les guerres avait été employé dans des travaux d’utilité! Quelle extension de l’agriculture, même au sommet des montagnes; Quels fleuves rendus navigables, ou joints par des canaux; Les ponts, les aqueducs, les nouvelles routes, les autres ouvrages publics, les édifices et les améliorations, qui font de l’Angleterre un paradis complet, n’auraient pas été obtenus en dépensant ces millions à faire le bien, qui, dans la dernière guerre, La misère en milliers de familles et la destruction de la vie de tant de travailleurs qui auraient pu accomplir les travaux utiles.

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