It’s Remembrance Day here in Canada. It’s when we remember the people who have died in war. All my life I’ve rejected it. When I was eleven our teacher mentioned something about crimes of war. I put my hand up and asked “Isn’t all war a crime?” No one had told me this; I just knew it.
As the war in the Middle East continues, and there are more than a thousand ‘advisors’ on the ground in Iraq, one remembers, if they are as old as I am, the ‘advisors’ in Viet Nam.
It’s too easy, too essentially a lie, to say that Corporal Fred Wiggins died for freeom and democracy, just because we sent him off. We need to take a look at what ‘dying for democracy’ looks like, to know what really happens to a young man when an explosive device blows away the lower part of his body, or when mortar fragments blow off his face and it takes him two days to die. Or perhaps take a peek at what the local civilian population might be doing, and watch a six-year-old boy tie to exctinguis the screaming ball of flame that was once his mother.
There’s no goodness in any of this. We throw living flesh into the meat-grinder of geo-politics and spend a few minutes in early November standing about and proclaiming that they died for ‘democracy’. It’s possible that war is hard-wired into humans, the same as it is into ants, and that we have no choice about it. If that’s so, let’s at least tell the truth, and admit that we’re caught in the teeth of a biological imperative that no longer serves us.
Jesus made it very clear. “Love one another”. This is very difficult, but it’s not ambiguous at all.