Memorial Day in the United States is a time to remember and give thanks to all military Veterans -- including one of my business partners -- who served our great nation, as well as those who paid the ultimate price. While many served in wars that even most conscientious objectors would consider just like WWII, that confronted and defended against various forms of evil, others served and gave their lives in wars that amounted to little more than egotistical and politically driven carnage -- that in certain theaters resulted in the spilling of even more blood shortly down the road.
World War I, nearly 100 years ago, was one of those 'other' wars. And it's ultimate tragedy -- as John Maynard Keynes reminded the world so presciently at the time -- is that the negotiated peace and reparations would doom the world to yet another massive round of killing. Keynes might not have forecast the actual rise of Adolf Hitler's bloodthirsty Third Reich lunacy, but he predicted it in theory.
This Memorial Day, I believe we should all make time to understand and be conscious of how seemingly small events and world reaction can lead to unforeseen consequences -- and the futile bloodshed of men, women and children both in uniform and out. The current situation in Europe might appear simply economic, but I don't believe for a minute that a lasting calm is certain given the fallout over the Euro. We can hope that a peaceful economic evolution is possible -- likely away from at least a single Euro, in our book -- but if history is a guide, those who are most disenfranchised will likely have little to lose by instigating potentially severe social volatility if desperation levels continue to rise.
I personally believe the combination of economic decline in Europe, including a slow-down in exports as the potential new currency of wealthy countries like Germany harms competitiveness, along with a rising and sporadically radical Muslim voice that is altering the homogenous voice of many European nations, may foster new tensions that will not be resolved peaceably in every instance. I certainly hope that issues of economic marginalization can be resolved without violence. But the past ten centuries of European history tell a very different story when gross disparity and economic hardship became the dominant themes of the day.
At best, we can hope that these debacles will be few and bloodlessly contained. At worst, well, that's not a topic I care to think about or explore. Regardless, in this time of rising economic crisis -- and not just for the sake of procurement and supply chain continuity -- we need to all hope and pray that the thin veil of civilization does not give way to violence and atrocity.
On the bright side, we have so many great lessons to learn from history. Let's hope our world leaders are able to integrate at least some of these teachings from the past, including the speed with which regional hotspots can flare up wiithour regard for borders.
So instead of only remembering our Veterans and those who gave their lives for both just and pointless causes today, consider this holiday a reminder of how historically unstable the world has been and how we all have the responsibility and precious freedom to prevent our bloody political and economic human history from repeating itself.