Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Danger of Only Half Remembering


Remembrance Day was over a week ago. Time to reflect and ponder on that event; the people, words and actions that symbolize such an important part of us as a people.
Should I worry if only a small piece of reality was presented? Is it my problem only? Or is there a real danger of partial truths leading to more harm and being even counter to the hopes we wish for?
The names of the dead were shared, along with the names of the wars in which they died. Good. But why did they die? It was clearly said that they died because they were brave, and because our freedom was threatened. They were all heroes, by definition. All who die in uniform, in our popular opinion, are heroes. No other view is allowed.
But our main assumptions just aren't true. Only in one of 'our' wars, WWII, were we attacked, at least our allies were attacked. (This is apart from the many times we were attacked by the United States. In their point of view, they were trying to liberate us, to bring us true freedom. But that's another story.)
In the two Boor Wars we were on the side of the British Empire, fighting against freedom, the freedom of the Dutch settlers of South Africa who only wanted to be left alone, cursed as they were, by occupying space that was coveted for it's wealth. So gleefully went off, for God, King and country, ready and eager to kill, because the very idea of any who didn't want to be like us, was threatening.
WWI had no cause other than the empires of Europe all wanted to become even richer. So we fought, of course, on the side of the British Empire. Brave? The boys were told they'd be home by Christmas. Those Huns didn't have a chance! It would have been a stalemate if the US hadn't joined in the fun. And the terrible terms of the 'peace' only assured the necessity of WWII.
And the wars since? Have our invasions since brought about peace? How's Afghanistan doing? When will we learn that very rarely do people want to be invaded, no matter their motives. (Remember those Yanks?)
I'm not against our gatherings at the cenotaph. But let's try to do the whole thing. When do school children learn of the big picture? When do we get a chance to truly weep about how, time and time again, we believe lies told to us by the rich and powerful, so that we'll give our lives for their 'national good'? There have been many times when the truly brave were those who stayed at home, choosing to live with the insults and stigma of peace. When do we hear of this? Why are the only things remembered are the dead, and not what killed them, nor what will bring new life? Why is the only poem remembered is one that urges us to keep on killing, especially from a war that was wrong and stupid?
I'll keep going to gatherings that remember. But also, I'll continue to urge us all to remember everything. 'The whole truth' is better for us all, I assume.


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