I am a civilian in the First World country of Canada; I understand that I live an easy life.
But many people on Earth live very marginal and traumatic lives because we still imagine that war can be employed as a tool to perpetuate those old, static definitions of “differences” between persons: nationality, ethnicity, and class (etc.).
Continuing to put people, civilians abroad and those in our Canadian Armed Forces nationally, in situations of egregious harm, through continuing to engage in wars, is unacceptable.
War is unacceptable because war perpetuates violence. War creates downstream instabilities, power imbalances, social rifts, and a lack of alternative dispute resolution machinery.
The problem of war lies in our minds, in our definitions of “self” and “other”.
The phrase “Lest we forget” from the poem Recessional by Rudyard Kipling, speaks to the idea that war should not overshadow higher powers or cause us to forget the transience of our empires.
The phrase “We will remember them.” from the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon, speaks to the sorrow of human lives lost in war.
I believe that all of the life on Earth, the generative line of beings back billions of years, is in-and-of-itself a higher power, and that we are all a part of it. We are all one.
Thus, let us allow “Lest we forget” to mean that we must not forget that all human beings are one. Let us allow “We will remember them” to mean that all beings that were once living and are now dead, all beings live on within us.
War is not worth it precisely because even when “we win”, we will still bear the scars of that “win” many, many years into the future.
There are those who have earned their scars, and there are those who are proud of the service and the sacrifices. But there are also many people, who while proud, are also weighted down heavily with all the legacies that war has left them with. Often, these are but two parts of a full experience of what it means to be an Armed Forces Member or a Veteran.
So, I urge our Canadian Armed Forces and our Veterans to honour themselves by demanding non-violent solutions to conflict. I urge our Armed Forces to reject war as a “solution” to conflict. Please, reject war because you know the sacrifices and you know the scars of war better than anyone else ever could. You, our Canadian Armed Forces and our Veterans, deserve a better solution.
I ask you to honour yourselves by rejecting the cycle of war which scars you again and again, in favour of a conflict resolution strategy which focuses on healing divisions.
I ask you to honour yourselves by finding solutions to war which hold all of our lives sacred.