Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Trouble with Remembrance

Once again the day that has been set aside for us to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of freedom is upon us and I am left with an uneasy feeling: what, exactly, are we remembering these days?

While it has never fallen upon me to take up arms to defend my country (for which all Canadians should be grateful as my skills are surely best served without things like an M24 in my hands … though it does have an interesting appeal at times) I have always observed Remembrance Day with a sense of solemnity, making a point – wherever possible – to watch the services from the National Memorial which is always broadcast on television.

The thing that has triggered my question this day stems from the modern face of war and the ways in which we have managed to sweep aside the conflicts in the name of political expediency. We do not want to offend our neighbours to the south, I’m sure, so in the service today you won’t hear (I’m quite sure – this is being written before they take place) any condemnations of the “immoral” or “illegal” war that is currently taking place. You won’t hear a single word spoken about the war of “revenge” and “retribution” that has cost now more American lives than the acts of terrorism that, ostensibly, caused them to be started. God forbid we should remember those who have been killed in this unholy war.

When the various ministers pray today we will not hear them plead to God for the nations that posses the wherewithal to intercede in the ongoing genocide taking place in Darfur to extract their heads from their stinking self-interests and begin the job of serving humanity rather than paying lip-service to lobbyists representing the special interest groups that have dictated everything that appears on the government agenda.

So what are we remembering this November 11th? Those soldiers who were killed in the great war of royal insanity; a war triggered by the assassination of an insignificant member of a family significant only for the fact that democracy had not visited itself upon the “empire”. The fact that this sparked a conflagration that sucked in virtually the entire world is testament to the fact that humanity is virtually incapable of standing idly by when a good fight is taking place.

Are we remembering the 69th anniversary of Krystalnacht (Nov. 9th), the millions of Jews, Russians, Poles, Hungarians, homosexuals, disabled people and other “untermenschen” that the Nazis murdered in the concentration camps, or are we only remembering the soldiers? Frankly, I have never been able to remember the one without the other: the great sacrifice paid by the soldiers must be remembered, to be sure, but dare we forget the victims of what began as a democratically elected government?

The “police action” of Korea – a war that, to this day, technically has not officially ended (a cease fire doth not a treaty make).

Which (if we exclude Vietnam which Canada didn’t “officially” participate in) brings us to the “current” conflicts. The peace keeping efforts in which Canadians have died are numerous and, alas, truly worth remembering.

It has always made me smile (and proud to be Canadian) when I think that those blue-bereted UN Peacekeepers exist because of a Canadian proposal and that Canadians have served in virtually every peacekeeping mission since the inception of the force in 1956, at the suggestion of then diplomat and future Prime Minister of Canada, Lester Pearson.

Our nation has a proud one of being there when it counts, when we are outnumbered and outgunned; but time and again Canadian soldiers have fought with tremendous courage and valour that belies the size of the forces deployed. Not willing to be the sacrificial lambs tossed into the waiting jaws of death, Canadian servicemen consistently demonstrated that they were more than “up to the task” of dealing with the enemies that were laying in wait for them. The roles played by Canadians in WWI and WWII, in which a combined number of over 100,000 died, is a terrible reminder of the costs of war.

Perhaps on this Remembrance Day it would have been fitting for the Chaplin to have summoned the courage to speak words that truly reflect the gravitas of the times in which we live rather than serving up the piece of ecumenical pap that was broadcast across this great nation. In closing I am now going to do something that I do not normally do in this blog – I am going to openly pray. If this is offensive to you, scroll down to the end of the post to see the final pictures of the poppies (my own photos) that are included in this post.

Heavenly Father, we gather here today
to remember those who paid
the ultimate sacrifice so that we may live in this land
with the freedoms that we enjoy on a daily basis.
Lord, we ask you to forgive us;
for we have squandered the great price
that these brave young men and women
offered through the letting of their own blood,
just as we often squander the gifts that
You have given to us when do not live
in peace with our neighbours.

We pray, Lord, that even while we remember
those who have fallen in past conflicts
You would raise up a force that would prevent
the further loss of life in places like Darfur, and that
You would put an end to the meaningless conflict
that is being fought in Iraq.

We pray for our Peacekeepers, Oh Lord,
not only in Afghanistan but wherever
their services may be needed,
even unto the ends of the earth.
Above all else, we pray for peace
in every corner of the world;
in all of Africa and Asia,
in all nations that see each other as enemy
rather than brother and sister,
and within each nation as well,
that every conflict may be settled by
the simple word of love.
This I pray in the precious name of Jesus,
Y’shua HaMoshiach; Amen.


Anonymous said...

you are a very confused man. there is a war going on in the world and it is our responsbilty to fight along with our american allies.

you dont understand freedom.


Unknown said...

Welcome back, Zion ... I'm surprised it took you a whole hour to reply to my post - what on earth could you have been doing?

The war that is going on in the world is a war that was created by the greed that the western nations have allowed to fuel every aspect of their lives: the need for more.

More consumer products, more of everything, and - of course - more fuel to power the gas-guzzling cars that drag the citizenry to the corner store to save them from getting five minutes of exercise.

Our responsibility is not to contribute to a war that has been proved to be - on several occasions an action that was initiated on completely false pretenses.

Our responsibility towards freedom is to ensure that every citizen is guaranteed the right of "habeas corpus" - the right to know what they are being charged with if the police drag them away in handcuffs. Habeas Corpus, having been one of our fundamental rights since the signing of the Magna Carta, is no longer a right to the citizens of the United States because of the legislative abuses that G.W. Bush has taken advantage of since 9/11.

Phil said...

Sorry Zion, this is a rich man's war for the resources they can make billions from. Why is it anyone's patriotic duty to support them?

Ben Heine said...

Interesting thinking Peter.
I like a lot your pictures.

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