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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day 2010

In Canada, today is Remembrance Day. Today is a statutory holiday dedicated to remembering the sacrifices of our war veterans, on the anniversary of the signing of the armistice to end World War I.

In the course of my duties as a cultural iconoclast I often experience qualms. Questioning the nature of Remembrance Day is particularly difficult for me, but remains necessary.

For my entire life, I observed Remembrance Day as being one of two state holidays (the other is Canada Day) which I actually saw as worth endorsing. My maternal grandfather served in WWII with the Saskatchewan Light Infantry, and later the First Special Service Force (Black Devils) and my paternal grandfather served with distinction as a Wellington Bomber pilot in the Polish division of the RAF. There is no doubt in my mind that these formidable men made the choice to fight because a great and primal evil was threatening the world, in the form of the Axis ideology.

But as time passes and minority accounts become available with the worldwide opening of consciousness that is called the Internet, I come to question, not the purpose of the terrible roles and risks they undertook, but the necessity.

Bravery is clapping your helmet over a live grenade, to risk getting severely injured or killed so that the whole foxhole full of your best friends isn't shredded and blown to pieces. Bravery is crawling through barbed wire with nothing but grenades and a stiletto to silence the machine-gunners that are shooting the snot out of your company. Bravery is putting your own, natural, abject fear of death aside, to trim out your mortally damaged aircraft for the hours of concentration it takes to get you and your crew home.

Bravery is NOT what creates these situations. POLITICS creates these situations.

It is good to remember bravery. I even feel it is a fundamental human duty, if anything is. But I will not alloy my natural human duty with smatterings of POLITICAL IDEOLOGY.

Politicians, to their credit, usually know better than to pipe up on this day. But still I worry, as I hear radio advertisements (which somebody paid for, for reasons of their own) reminding us to honour those who 'continue to serve'.

I simply do not believe that we can unreservedly call our current wars 'just wars', and therefore, I begin to see problems in my structure of honouring the sacrifices of the soldiery as a class. Furthermore, as I think and learn, I do not believe that we can unreservedly call ANY war a 'just war'.

War is the thing that SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING. War is a thing that IS UTTERLY PREVENTABLE, like DRUNK DRIVING. The United Nations was founded following World War II with the stated end of achieving world peace. Instead they are a structure for endorsing or toothlessly disapproving of the prosecution of wars. They have failed, not because they cannot succeed, but because war is profitable, and war uses up resources that could be used to make people comfortable enough to question the predominant ideology, and war creates a psychology appropriate for authority.

So on this day I will remember people, and I will reaffirm my awareness of what I am being asked to believe, and what I am asked to sacrifice and why. And I will take this day to be particularly skeptical of what politicians are saying.

We, people, do not conquer countries. We might conquer one guy with a submachine gun who has broken into the medical tent. So we should hesitate very gravely before we sign on to some mass effort on a scale we can't even comprehend.

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