Once again it’s Remembrance Day and I find myself conflicted.
I give thanks that I live in a free society that I can say what I want, believe what I want and agree to disagree with the government. That took a struggle, like WWWII. A struggle that cost lives and that probably was the only way to stop global rise of fascism. I fight I would have been expected to join, if I had lived at the time of my father.
Yet I would never fight for such a cause. I would never kill anyone to maintain one nation’s right to rule of another. I’m a conscientious objector. I will not pick up a gun because my government tells to do it.
So I would probably have gone to jail, possibly even shot. Maybe I’d have gone “to the front” as a non-gun carrying stretcher bearer, determined to support the cause but not all of the means? Undoubtedly I’d have been labelled a coward. Afraid to fight. Those that know me well will know that I’m not afraid to fight. Quite the opposite. I have to maintain my anger sometimes to maintain my beliefs. I think all humans are capable of murder. That doesn’t mean we should do it.
My father, thankfully, never saw active service in WWII. He was always “behind” the action. It’s an interesting story, which I may tell here one day. My maternal grandfather went to war in WWI. He won the George Cross for Heroism, after single-handedly taking out a German machine-gun emplacement after all his friends were killed. But was it bravery or a case of momentary madness. He came home with what we would probably call PTSD these days. He never got help and was killed in a mining accident in 1928. He was 38. My mother was 4.
But when I see the politicians standing by the cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday I remember that wars are not started by men such as my father or grandfather. They’re started by fools who strive to get their own way at any cost. In the middle-ages Kings used to fight with their men. Not anymore. Now they watch from the sidelines and watch lines move from side to side on a map.
So when our leaders talk about the “sacrifice” that people have made to keep us safe I feel sickened. War is failure. The failure of leaders to give up on peace when more can still be done. OK, you might not get what you wanted, but at least nobody dies. That’s the kind of “sacrifice” I want. Compromise.
Remember your dead if that’s what you want to do, but I will be remembering the peace I had today, the peace I’ve had all my life and hoping the politicians will do the same.