James Kirkup

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The poem no men are foreign has a greater relevance in today's world than even before? Do you think that statement can be justified?

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Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, a novel about a young man's horrors in World War I, expresses much the same sentiment as Kirkup who writes, "eyes like ours that wake or sleep."  During the shell firing, Paul Baumer, a German soldier, finds himself in a fox hole with a Belgium soldier, whom he stabs.  As the man dies, Paul senses his humanity and perceives the likeness of himself in the dying man.  When he finds the man's identification and photos of his family, Paul feels wretched, and vows to do something for the widow and child.  He thinks of how easily it could be he who dies instead.

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You could argue that it does have more relevance today because there are so many kinds of conflict today that come about because people see each other as fundamentally different from themselves.

The main point of this poem is that all people are essentially alike.  They share the same hopes and the same fears.  A Muslim is the same as a Hindu or a Christian in this regard.

Today, so much of our conflict comes about because people don't see this fact.  Muslims think that Christians are the enemy.  Hindus think Muslims are the enemy.  Sinhala think Tamils are the enemy.  All of these think that other people are not really like them and so they fight.

Because there is so much conflict today that is caused by these kinds of attitudes, the poem is more relevant than in past times when conflicts were less personal.

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