On Remembrance Day in Canada (called Veteran’s Day in the States) I am often reflective (as I was in a post 5 years ago). I remember in Junior High (I think it was in English class, Grade 8), I had to memorize and recite “In Flander’s Fields” on November 11th. Far from being a threatening experience (one of my first times standing up in front of class… and for a teacher whom I respected), I learned a lot from it. I came to respect the decisions made in the past that have brought us to war. Even though I’m a pacifist, even though I think that most of our leaders go to war far too easily, I have to respect that being part of my culture and the socio-political system that I was born into. Although I’ve never officially been part of any army or drawn weapons against another (and hope I never have to), I’ve had enough brushes with the subject and have friends in the Forces (of one country or another) that I’ve come to where my respect for the military abounds. So each year around Remembrance Day I take time to honour the sacrifices and efforts of others to build the freedom that I enjoy today.
This Remembrance Day is a little darker than most I remember, certainly than any over the last few years. And it’s because, more than I have recently, I wonder where our world is headed. Watching the U.S. Election over the last few months, and particularly to see how far one of the candidates was willing to go… or rather, perhaps, how deeply he was willing to delve… rather shocked me. And then to see that he was rewarded for mastering such a rhetoric of evil: that saddened me. It did not surprise me, but it darkened the world in my eyes. That so many people were willing to vote for such a person is a bleak testimony to our time, our world.
Part of the reason that I find this so sad is that I don’t think the sacrifices we remember today were made with this kind of “freedom” in mind. Freedom to love, yes. Freedom to pursue our dreams, absolutely. Freedom to be who we were intended to be, whatever our gender, orientation, race or religion: without question. But freedom to exploit? No. Freedom to say or do whatever we want, justified by wealth or ambition? Absolutely not. Freedom to portray the kind of hatred and abuse that one of the candidates was not only accused of, but actively portrayed before our very eyes: a thousand times no.
That kind of freedom was not what our friends and forebears died for in the past. But I believe it is what will lead to more death than we can imagine in the future.