Why should we not wage wars against each other?  (Please refer to the poem "No Men are Foreign.")

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Kirkup wishes to make the assertion that there is a transcendental life force that unifies us. Waging war is something that is fundamentally against this spirit. Examine the lines in the poem and one can see that he is rather unequivocal about how he feels. Human beings, in his mind, need to start seeing one another as brothers and sisters and dissipate the connection of hatred and demonizing that is ongoing, replacing it with a discourse that emphasize common experience and shared narratives of consciousness. I realize that I might have come across as a bit harsh in my previous responses to this poem, but I think that it should be noted that Kirkup's message is a powerfully idealistic one. I think it smacks of President Kennedy's idea of "We all breathe the same air" elements that articulated a potential end to the Cold War in 1963. Where my critique lies is not in such a message, but rather in how we can apply it to situations where individual cruelty is being maximized on innocent individuals. The use of Hitler has already been demonstrated. There have been other events in history where the use of force was necessitated to stop further loss of life. There are times when wars have to be waged in order to protect the sanctity of human life. I think that it would be interesting to see how Kirkup responds to Hitler or other figures that are so blatantly evil that to ignore them or to view them as brothers actually emboldens them and strengthens their claim to harm others.
pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The idea that we should not fight one another is the basic message of this whole poem.  So, to find the answer, you simply need to look at the arguments Kirkup makes.  The best place to find these arguments is in the part of the poem up to line 12.

Basically, Kirkup is saying that we are all brothers -- that all people are alike.  He says that we all walk upon the same earth and we will all be buried in that earth when we die.  He says that all people share common goals and hopes and dreams.  In these ways, we are all alike.  Because we are all alike, it would be perverse to fight one another.  It would be as if we were fighting ourselves.

henapaul's profile pic

henapaul | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

We must not wage war against each other simply because, as referred to in the poem that by harming ones neighbor, which is the main objective of wars, we are, in reality, harming ourselves.

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