There is a museum in Catania, Sicily, about the Allied invasion of Italy, which began in Sicily. The museum is quite remarkable, including a bomb shelter where you sit and listen to sound of bombs dropping while the room shakes.
There are endless exhibits about all aspects of that invasion, including guns of all sizes, from pistols to machine guns and mortars. There are parts of war planes, of helmets, of every kind of implement of war.
What I found myself thinking was about the enormous outpouring of ingenuity, skill, and dedication that went into the design, manufacturing, and deployment of machines created to kill people. (And to supply food and ammunition and medical care to the people who were there to kill people,)
There was an anti-aircraft canon on display, made of dozens of carefully crafted parts, assembled with perfection so that men on the ground could best try to blast men flying planes into oblivion.
And the warplanes were more examples of incredible machinery, designed by brilliant engineers, built in factories in the US, England, Germany, Russia, and elsewhere. All created to kill men on the ground, to shoot down other planes, or to drop bombs on factories and on people.
And the tanks. And the ships. And the howitzers. And the rockets. And the torpedos.
All created with brilliance by skilled minds; all created to put bullets into people, to blow up ships, to firebomb cities.
And much of this was done in a very short time; entire ships were designed on paper and then built in months.
All these ships and planes and canons and tanks were used, destroyed in the war, or discarded shortly after the war ended.
And I kept thinking… what could we accomplish with that level of energy and dedication – if it were all put to constructive uses, not to killing people?
The cost of designing and building all those war machines was not an issue, not for Germany, not for Japan, not for England, not for the United States. Each country saw it as necessary and committed to it.
What would it take for countries today to commit that same level of energy and brilliance and work and resources to improving peoples lives without killing the planet? To reversing climate change? To providing food without factory farms? To creating clothing without slave labor? To ridding the oceans of plastic? To providing enough safe energy so wars are not fought over it? To providing enough safe water so people don’t die from lack of water and bad water? To allow all people to control family size and avoid overpopulation?
What would it take?