“Religion, ideology, resources, land, spite, love or just because… No matter how pathetic the reason, it’s enough to start war. War will never cease to exist… reasons can be thought up after the fact… Human nature pursues strife.”Nagato Uzumaki (Naruto Shippuden)
Few quotes have ever been uttered with an impetus that forced you to look inwardly at your flaws, and outwardly at the state of the world. Fewer still take the time to take in the words that wrap themselves in the garbs of enlightenment. A fleeting moment of words spoken. However, when Nagato, whose codename is Pain, utters these words, the impetus of them reverb in monumental way when you consider the past of the man.
Nagato was shinobi of Amegakure and descendant of the legendary Uzumaki clan. And like the naive leash of youth often does, Nagato had dreams of bringing peace to the shinobi world which was plagued by violence and brutality. The same brutality that took his parents from him and made him an orphan born of war. It was because of this Nagato needed to bring peace to the turmoil of the land. So no one would have to suffer like he did. Or like his parents that died at the hands of Konoha shinobi soldiers as they desperately sacrificed themselves to give Nagato a chance at survival.
With that, Nagato created the union of Akatsuki with his brothers born of the same detriment, his fellow war orphan brothers Yahiko and Konan. An effort to reach the ambitious goal of world peace.
However, as it always is, War and Death are never satisfied. And there is no retreat. Yahiko dies. Another trigger that sends Nagato down a path that would be all-consuming.
Nagato has lost too much now. He adopts the alias Pain. The ultimate dream of a peaceful shinobi survived, albeit in tatters. However, the modus operandi has… evolved. The new Akatsuki would aim to bring about an age of peace by any means necessary, even if that meant leading sanguine, violent campaign against those who would not ultimately submit to the goals of the Akatsuki.
Nagato, especially in his youth, was often depicted as a sensitive soul. His natural inclination to defend those he loves and empathise. Granted, there is some delusion of grandeur involved. He is a self-proclaimed god. At times too, anyone who disagrees with his philosophy gets a fair shake. Nagato would often request a decrier’s own solution to the problems of the world before almost inevitably being dissatisfied with the response due to his low opinion of human beings as a whole.
However, there is a cold, violent side to Nagato, a paradox that often puzzles. Nagato without hesitation attempted to kill his former teacher Jiraiya, stating that all love for Jiraiya had long since died. Nagato philosophy of pain being the penultimate teacher was a lesson he often tried to bestow on others. No other moment was this disturbingly clear when Nagato razed the entire Leaf village or attempted to kill Hinata Hyūga when she came to Naruto’s defence. All just to drive home his point that shared pain was the only true way that human beings could wholly understand each other.
The often confusing dichotomy of the self-proclaimed god does not negate the impetus of his words. His words, whether intentional or not, pointed to his own crusade as being ultimately flawed. War is a human staple. An Abel and Cain scenario that started over, what I suspect was ownership of resources. Or conflicting ideas.
Millenia later, the reasons have not changed. They have just been given categorical labels. “Religion, Ideology, Love, Spite” – born from some intrinsic need of the mind. “Land, resources” – born from a physical need of the body. All geared towards coddling the perverted survival mechanism in nature’s most flawed being. Whatever the justification, war, by Nagato’s words in unavoidable. An itch that demands alleviation. The irony of it all is Nagato justification for orchestrating his own war is nothing new or unique. Which goes some way to prove even the most illustrious of words elude the speaker.