Monday, November 11, 2002

On Remembrance Day and World Peace

Today is Remembrance Day, the day we solemnly reflect upon the sacrifices made by those brave young men and women who offered their lives to preserve and protect our way of life. But it is so much more than that.

When I think of the horrendous acts that took place in the darkest days of the Second World War it is beyond my ability to believe that the world was able to withstand the convulsions of the plague set upon it. The "Thousand Year Reign" of the Nazis didn't even last a decade, but in their own warped way they helped shaped the course that our society would take by galvanizing the moral fiber of enough people - outraging them enough - to work to prevent the possibility of a reoccurrence of this global catastrophe.

The idea of the Peace Movement was not new to the world after WWII, but it certainly had more momentum, and more relevance as people began to realize that we simply could not afford to dedicate the economies of the world towards killing each other - which is why we had the Cold War, and the United States and the Soviet Union dedicated huge portions of their GNP towards the production of weapons and the maintenance of their military readiness (just in case the Soviet Union decided to attack the United States, each would be able to effectively destroy the world twenty times over)?.

Thus the world was introduced to the concept of MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction (or "how effectively can we wipe ourselves off the face of the earth without leaving any trace that we ever existed?").

I would offer that Remembrance Day should be changed. Instead of a less of a solemn reflection on the past sacrifices, which should never be forgotten, we should have a call for international peace. Canada has been a powerful part of the international peace movement since the establishment of the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces, but that is no longer enough. We are living in a time where the risk of a terrorist attack with a device of mass destruction has left the realm of science fiction: can we still risk the threat of war between nations when we should be focusing on the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, especially those which are particularly vulnerable to falling into the hands of people who would consider using them for political reasons - to instill terror into the hearts of innocent people.

Imagine what might happen if the resources used for the military in the world could be turned towards humanitarian efforts? How many schools could be built with what it costs to build and maintain an aircraft carrier - Or a hospital - housing for the poor - food for the hungry. The list is, sadly, endless. I don't know if we could end the problems of the world this way, but it seems to me that when you build weapons, in the end, somebody is going to want to use them - and that usually means they will try to find a way to do so - even if it is through political means. War is not something that we should be looking at in this time as a potential solution to problems. It is a barbaric response that we should be able to put behind us as we move further into this new millennium.

On this Remembrance Day, my thoughts will go out to those who died to help preserve the freedom we enjoy, but I will also be thinking — perhaps you can call it praying - about what this world may be like when we finally put an end to war. That will truly be a day to remember - a day for the world to rejoice, and for all of us to celebrate our freedom.