I have mixed, probably contradictory, feelings when it comes to Remembrance Sunday.
On the one hand I believe that except in extreme circumstances, war is never a solution. I don’t believe the crap about “peace-keeping forces”, or about soldiers’ job being to bring peace and stability. Peace isn’t found at the end of a gun. It is not found by shooting people, or by bombing them, or by using chemical weaponry or any of the one-thousand-and-one ways our supposed “peace-keepers” know how to destroy.
A soldier’s job is to kill or be killed. That’s what they are paid to do. End of discussion.
Likewise, I don’t believe that one side is Good and the other is Evil. In Word War II, both Allied and Axis forces had Christian chaplains supporting the troops. Was God on both sides, fighting against Himself? People fight for many reasons. Most of those reasons are bad ones, including fighting for profit or patriotism fueled by propaganda. People have fought wars – and still do – out of hatred, out of jealousy and from a philosophical belief that theirs is the One True Way.
I can think of only one good reason to fight, and that is to defend your home. If I had to side with anyone in a conflict, they are the folks I’d be rooting for.
Yet amid all my vehement anti-war sentiment, I consider Remembrance Sunday more deserving of it’s place in the calendar than even Christmas and Easter. We can only learn from History, from what’s gone before. We need to look at the events of World War I, II and the conflicts since, and never forget them. WWI was supposed to be the War to end Wars, yet we live in a world more torn by strife now than ever before.
A large part of our modern-day dilemmas come from mistakes made at the end of World War II where otherwise well-meaning people carved up the world with little of no regard for History. We saw the birth of Israel and Checkoslovakia; both places the world would have been better without. Israel should live in the hearts and mind of people of Jewish faith everywhere, not committing terrorist acts and acting as America’s pet cancer in the Middle East.
The fifty years from 1900 to 1950 changed the world in unimaginable ways. Millions upon millions of people died, creating a demographic ripple we still feel today. Borders changed, empires fell and class divisions broke down. There were tangential benefits that are every bit as wide-reaching. Because of the Wars, women became workers and gained a voice. Their walk to equality became a run. That’s undoubtedly a good thing, though the cost was all those millions of dead they replaced on the factory floor.
It is impossible to have a war and not shape a region for centuries to come. It’s impossible to kill people and not feel the ripple of lives lost shaping the emotions of those left behind.
How politicians can think that war is ever a solution, I will never know.
And that is why I will remember them. Because they, the leaders, have forgotten.