Just another Remembrance Day…

Remembrance Day seems to be sticking with me this year for some reason.  As a former peace activist, I’m one of those odd people who has always reflected on war and its causes and consequences*.  Currently, glory and  heroism are the dominant themes of the day.  While I feel a strong debt of gratitude and support for our military and veterans, in my mind focusing on their heroism defeats the deeper purpose of the day: prevention.

The Mennonite Central Committee in Canada came up with the concept “To Remember is to work for Peace”, a few decades ago.  “While Remembrance Day acknowledges the suffering that happens during war, it also affirms that wars are necessary,” says Esther Epp-Tiessen, MCC Canada’s peace program coordinator. “Our faith teaches us to love our enemies, to seek the well-being of our neighbours, and to do so through peaceful, non-violent means.”**

Over the decades, I’ve been impressed with these Mennonites the way they act on their beliefs in a big way – like forming volunteer brigades to build homes in developing countries.  So I was happy to learn of their take on war and peace.

What does it mean to “work for peace”?  Surely it has to begin with at least an understanding of the causes of war. These have been known and understood for a long time.  In fact, this understanding was a part of the creation of the United Nations (The League of Nations) after the first world war, and eventually, Peacekeeping.

In the sixties, the trajectory was increasingly towards developing steps to the  ‘permanent peace’ we used to dream of.  It included a large, mainly successful and respected role for the U.N.  We were still, underneath it all, afraid of nuclear war, so still motivated to prevent it.

In this new millennium, however, generations have grown up with a world full of nuclear weapons that have never been used.  It is now taken for granted by most that they never will be.

Meanwhile, people like myself, the harbingers of potential disaster, are tired of trying to find new ways to sound the alarm bells.  We too are moving increasingly toward escapist activities – Nero fiddling while Rome burns.  I often suspect we are entertaining ourselves to death.

Meanwhile, Israel and Gaza are at each other again, without much serious reaction from abroad.*   It doesn’t even show up on the Toronto Star’s website under “Hot Topics”.  So much for another Remembrance Day.

* http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1289703–gaza-civilian-toll-mounts-as-israel-targets-militants-in-residential-areas

** http://www.mcc.org/stories/news/after-two-decades-modest-message-peace-endures

This entry was posted in causes, consciousness, nuclear, peace, reflections, Remembrance Day, social commentary, war, world peace and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Just another Remembrance Day…

  1. mixedupmeme says:

    Of course I prefer peace to war. I have never had to choose between them. My government has always made those decisions. I really wonder what I would do in a face to face situation. Compromise I am for. But I don’t know if I would back down to submission and repression.

    • I know what you mean. They have life-threatening choices like that in a place like Syria, but not where you are. The kind of choice you have is more like reducing consumption of petroleum products connected to conflict in the Middle East. Your country seems to be moving in that direction…. But as usual, it’s the poor in countries far way, who end up suffering, and we in the west have often supported brutal dictatorships, etc. for greedy, materialistic reasons or just because it’s too easy to just believe the stories we’re told. It’s so easy to just “change the channel” and go on entertaining ourselves while people suffer — people we could help instead – for example by joining an anti-landmine group (e.g. http://www.icbl.org/intro.php) I find it almost a ‘modern miracle’ that we can explore virtually any idea online. 🙂

  2. mixedupmeme says:

    We/I seem to have certain news sites booked and go to the same places to read what we want to hear. And I do hear you when you point out that we do have choices to make in daily life that could ultimately produce some positive changes.
    The dilemmas are real and when some are solved new ones will replace them. The conversations are important.
    So you see your blog does bring some thinking……not only to yourself. 🙂

  3. Thanks — I feel heard! 🙂 I sometimes think if we could all just realize there are no “evil” people, merely flawed, imperfect ones like ourselves, we could bring about world peace. (Don’t remember who said that, but it wasn’t original 😦 ) But until that time, we can at least try to reduce some of the misery in the world, “comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable”…. Maybe you could write a song about it! 🙂

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