We mean by civilization a way of life in which the wilder passions of humanity are restrained, the nobler instincts and inclinations are developed and allowed to prevail.
As civilized men we want the all-round development of human culture, literature, science and the arts, giving good-bye to the jungle laws, In a word, civilization is a state when the highest ideals of the human society are naturally and spontaneously reflected in man’s thoughts and actions. If we admire the civilization of ancient India or Greece and Rome, it is not for the wars that they waged, but for their literature, art and architecture, their philosophic thoughts.
History teaches us one thing, that is, man has attained his highest civilization in times of peace. The military successes of ancient times are mostly forgotten: The poets have praised war but it is only to illustrate the greatness of the human mind, which the exploits of heroic fighters displayed. But imagine the cost of wars.
Men, money and material have been wasted for sheer destruction. Warlords often claim that war is a healthy tonic and should be waged to re-establish moral values. They offer a dangerous plea- that war is unavoidable and that civilization has progressed in the powder cart.
But compare the achievements of the primrose paths of peace in the tapoban of ancient India or the Academies of ancient Greece, or the schools and universities of modern world. The argument that some thinkers advance that war is necessary for the development of manly virtues is beaten hollow.
Hence, disturbance of peace destroys the conditions on which civilization depends. In the first place, war rouses the brutal passions of the human mind where man is less than human. It is organized butchery, mass killing of youngmen at the doorstep of life.
Civilization implies a high standard of social behaviour that encourages the finer sentiments; war certainly is not favorable to these; on the contrary, it makes men cruel, greedily selfish. More obviously, war destroys what man has created over the years.
Modern war carries destruction even to areas of peace, inhabited by civil population, cities and cornfields and bridges and factories are blasted out by heavy bombing from the air. It puts back the hands of progress for years, and man has to rebuild afresh what he had created with so much money and toil. Finally, modern war demands a people’s all-out, efforts, and little time is left to devote to art and architecture. To be thinking all the time about the best way to ruin the enemy is certainly not a very healthy or civilized occupation.
A school of modern apologists of war argues that war is a biological necessity of increasing the vitality of people. War brings out effectively the more virile qualities of body and mind. A nation becomes brave, self-respective and self-reliant as a result of war. That this is not the whole truth should have been clear to anyone studying the recent history of Germany, Italy or other nations following their footsteps. It is possible by generating a kind of war-hysteria to carry a people forward to some extent, but re-action is always disastrous. The test of real civilization is the all-round and harmonious development of both the individual and the social man. Not atom bomb but atom for peace should be our aim.
It is true by creating a sense of urgency, war steps up progress in certain departments of life. The First World War helped the development of aeronautics and led to phenomenal improvements in travels by air. The Second World War directly helped the discovery of antibiotic medicines like the Penicillin. But not one can say that such discoveries could not be or have not been made in the piping times of peace. Rather much more beneficent achievements have been made in times of peace, pursuing pacific methods along paths of peace.