At 11:00 on 11/11/11, millions of people will take a minute or two of silence to remember those that have died defending our freedom. We collectively honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice, fighting and dying, so that we can enjoy liberty and prosperity.
The meaning of Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day) has changed for me over the years. For the first 20 years of my life, it was just what I wrote in the first paragraph. Then as I grew older, I lost interest. I became more interested in peace, so honoring those who made war did not suit me. Besides, the wars we remembered were so long ago as to have little significance in this age when Europe is united and allied with us.
Now our governments, perhaps missing the good old days of violence and death, have brought war back into fashion, starting new wars before the old ones are over, sending more and more troops overseas to defend our access to oil. I get more disgusted with war every year, as these wars drag on interminably, and poor young men die breaking into the homes of other poor people living on the other side of the world.
They are not dying to defend our freedom. They are dying to defend the wealth of the 1%.
Why is this happening? Well, it’s easy to point the finger at the 1% and at the government and at the right-wing nut-bars who want to shoot everything that moves. It’s not so easy to point the finger back at myself.
There is war in my world because other people are just like me. They want to fight. As much as I want peace, I fight. I get angry and blame other people for whatever I perceive as wrong in my world. Sometimes I just want to smack them. I get so mad at people who hurt my world, who hurt my feelings, who fail to live up to my expectations. I blame the “right-wing nut-bars.” I blame selfish jerks. I blame people who cut me off in traffic. I blame Wall Street. Some part of me – the part I don’t let out in public – is even capable of pulling the trigger and killing someone, given the right (or wrong) circumstances. It’s a terrible war, going on in here.
There is war in this world because there is war in my heart, and in the hearts of other people like myself. And war will continue to kill us and ravage our society as long as we give that war a place to exist.
This Remembrance Day, I will pause for two minutes of silence, not only to remember young men like me who gave their lives fighting fascism 70 years ago, but to look upon the war going on today. The wars being fought overseas, and the war being fought in my own self.
Somewhere in that moment of silence, I hope I can envision a world without that war.