Can we think of something we do not know of?
Maybe if there were something no one knew, no one would ever think of it, and it would never exist.
But being the cognitive creatures we are, the possibility always remains that the present body of knowledge suddenly takes on a new meaning one day and leads us down a different line of thinking, causing something to come into existence. Maybe we will find out by chance or by accident at first, but once we find out, we will likely take interest in the new knowledge and study it hard, wanting to deepen our understanding of it and figure out more ways of applying it in our lives… for better or for worse.
So, maybe it is not realistic to hope that if no one knew what a war is, no one would ever think of starting one, and the world would forever be without war.
Maybe the only way we can cease its existence is by keeping the all the knowledge we have stacked up on it in our memory, so that one day we will be led down a different line of thinking, casing peace to come into existence.
Then, the question now is, can we remember something we have not experienced ourselves?
I for one have, luckily, never experienced war. I can only imagine to a certain extent what people in war – soldiers or civilians – go through, physically and emotionally. I cannot fully feel or understand their pain and suffering, during and long after the war. I would go see exhibits and listen to the voices of those who have lived through wars, but they lack a sense of reality in me. I cannot say that I will be able to propagate their memories to others in my time and to the future generations.
But I do have war-related memories of my own that I can share… ones that can depict that war has long-lasting effects that extend even onto those who have not experienced it. I can tell about how my grandfather was never the same after he returned from war, and how sad I still am after almost thirty years from his death that I never truly got to know him. I can tell about how I could not become friends with a classmate because our countries of origin were once in war against one another and she was taught to hate me for my nationality, but how I could see her not wanting to hate me after spending time together in the same class.
Maybe our memories of war is bound to change over time and vary across cultures.
But maybe we can remember and spread the lessons we each have learned from them.
And with that, maybe memories of peace will grow as well, to have a bigger and stronger presence in all our lives.
Being the cognitive creatures we are, I have confidence that we will know what memories to keep to eliminate war and bring about peace.