Lest We Forget: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (1)
If we don’t want to repeat the sorrow of war, then our Remembrance of war needs all the help it can get –from all voices. We can’t afford to forget, nor under-represent any voice or memory.
The alarming, dangerous “forgetting” and under-representation of some peace voices in Canada is already happening: For example, the House of Commons is supposed to “represent” Canadians, but didn’t: In 2008 it extended the military mission in Afghanistan (from 2009 – 2011) even though 60% of Canadians were opposed.
Some say that November 11 is only for veterans. But, lest we forget the root…:
…In 1918, in the beginning, November 11 meant a lot to all people – not just veterans and not just those who remember veterans alone. November 11 began to mean a lot to all people a whole year before Remembrance Day was even started.
This “Armistice” or “commemoration of an end to fighting” was done by all in 1918. Today also, our Remembrance of that original commemoration can be done by all. There is nothing in that Remembrance excludes anyone. Nor is there anything in Remembrance that elevates one group above another. For example, it doesn’t elevate veterans of war above civilian victims of war, nor vice versa.
After World War II, “Armistice Day” was changed to “Veterans Day” in the United States and to “Remembrance Day” in countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations…including Canada. But France and Belgium kept (Remembered) the name “Armistice Day.” (Lest We Forget)(3)
Remembrance Day is For “All”…including “All” Nations:
Also in 1945, the United Nations was formed. Its new Charter (to “chart” its future course) reflected the collective perspective of almost all nations together. It includes more people and more perspectives to learn of what war actually is and does. This effort to “collect as much evidence as possible” will inevitably mean including all the nations instead of just our own.
If all people are included in Remembrance Day, what do we do when they disagree?
The answer is to discuss the issues. Some issues are as unavoidable as “an elephant in a room” – and yet they are often ignored because some people don’t want to face the difficulty that accompanies them. Nevertheless, this site will not shy away from them because they are a matter of life and death. To begin, consider these three discussions:
Discussion #1: An undemocratic war for democracy?
From 2006 to March, 2008 there were various well-publicized polls showing a majority Canadian taxpayer opposition to Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan. Click here for list of links to independent verification.
Despite that, on March 13, 2008, the House of Commons voted to extend it by 2 more years (from 2009 to 2011).
In other words, the majority of the taxpayer funders of the war opposed it, but the government used their money to extend it anyway.
The opposition to the extension existed despite the new conditions attached to the mission.
Here’s the question: Is it logically consistent for the House of Commons to order that kind of undemocratic war …while at the same time claiming to do so for the sake of furthering democracy around the world?
Discussion #2: A silenced majority?
This puts the majority of taxpaying funders of such a war in the following awkward position:
How do us Canadians now commemorate Remembrance Day together with 2009-2011 veterans of the Afghanistan war when the majority of us Canadian taxpayers / funders didn’t want that war extended in that time period?
At Remembrance Day ceremonies, is that majority group (of unwilling funders for 2009-2011) allowed to dialogue and discuss things with the 2009-2011 veterans who speak at those ceremonies?
At Remembrance Day ceremonies, is there any time in the schedule for the voices of that majority of unwilling funders?
If Remembrance Day is for “all,” then shouldn’t that include at least the majority?
Comparing “the sacrifice of a life” to “the sacrifice of tax dollars”
If there is a cause or mission that is justified and worth dying for, then the sacrifice of a few tax dollars is nothing compared to sacrificing one’s life.
But each individual cause or mission must be carefully examined to asses whether or not it is, in fact, justified.
That is especially true of causes and missions which involve using lethal weapons, such as wars.
That is also true of Canada’s military mission to Afghanistan.
The 2009-2011 extension of that mission was opposed by the majority of Canadians. Therefore the mission was undemocratic, and therefore not justified.
If a 60% democratic majority did not want the military there, and yet they still went there, then is that really “protecting democracy?”
Sadly, it’s not logically consistent for the military to say Canadians: “We know that the democratic majority of you Canadians do not want us there, but we’re risking our lives, the ultimate sacrifice, to protect your democracy.”
Lethal weapons were used in the name of Canadian citizens
In the 2009-2011 extension of Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan, lethal weapons were used in the name of the citizens of Canada even when the majority of those citizens were opposed.
Was that fair to the majority of the citizens of Canada?
That majority was forced to pay for a lethal situation which they opposed. In that lethal situation, there were innocent civilians in our human family who were killed. And yet our tax dollars were forcibly taken from us to pay to extend that situation.
“The right to refuse to kill” should also include “the right to refuse to pay for killing.”
For those who are only opposed to specific wars (but not all wars), “the right to refuse to kill in specific wars” should also include “the right to refuse to pay for killing in specific wars.”
Discussion #3: Repeating mistakes in future?
Was if right that the 2009-2011 extension to the war in Afghanistan took place without the support of the majority of those who funded it with their tax dollars?
Will it be right if we allow that type of situation to happen again in the future?
Which of the following is the better way to prevent repeating a past mistake?:
- A) Forgetting or hiding the past mistake
- B) Remembering the past mistake and helping others remember it. (ie. “Lest We Forget”)
If you think “B” is the right answer, then see below for something positive and helpful you can do to honour your convictions.
What you can do to honour your convictions
Click here to learn how to download and wear any of the above symbols (posters also available). This will be something positive and helpful you can do to honour your convictions.
Answer: Yes, here’s a list of “less heard voices”:
- Unwilling funders of war (see this link)
- White poppy supporters (see this link)
- Civilian Victims of war (see this link)
- War resisters (see this link)
- Religious Groups (see this link)
Also see the “Remembrance Day For All” Facebook page at this link (click here).