Q&A with Chris Hedges
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges has reported on war from more than 50 countries.
But at a PlayMakers Repertory Company community forum tonight, his focus will be the battlefields of 15th-century England.
The forum will focus on society’s “cultural addiction to war,” which Hedges explores in his best-selling book, “War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.” The bestseller, which came out in 2002, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year.
In PlayMakers’ current production, “The Making of a King,” the characters are constantly engaged in military conflict — first in a civil war, and then with France.
Staff writer Grace Tatter spoke to Hedges about the commonalities between war in the “Henry” plays and conflict today, and what makes America particularly vulnerable to the seductive power of war.
DAILY TAR HEEL: In your book, you tie together literature and your experiences as a war correspondent to shed light on the seductive power of war. How do Shakespeare and the “Henry” plays demonstrate this seductive power?
CHRIS HEDGES: Because all of the wars in “Henry” plays are fought over nothing. There are clear figures like Hotspur who, like Achilles, thrive on wars and violence.
Through the figure of Falstaff you have a window into the cruelty and the empty moral posture of those who wage war as well as an exposure of those around Falstaff who buy into it.
They’re never fought over noble sentiments by which they’re sold to the wider public.
The goal in Iraq was never to bring democracy. The sort of high-blow sentiments are sold, and the sad fact is most wars shouldn’t be fought, or shouldn’t have had to been fought.
DTH: Having been all over the world, how do you think Americans view war differently than those in other countries?
CH: When you have the capacity to wage war, you have the desire to wage war. It’s not an American culture, but it’s any military power.
DTH: What do you wish people would understand about wars today?
CH: The only people who understand war are the people who go to war. The reality of war is so heavily censored. If people actually saw what war is like it would be so repugnant, no one would ever wage it.
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