Tuesday, 12 November 2013

what do we remember on Remembrance Day?

Remembrance Day 2013

We gathered to remember on remembrance day. We remember those who have suffered and died because of war. They are many of our family members. No doubt some of those who read this have suffered as a result of war. Why do we do this? Why do we want to remember these horrible times? Wouldn’t it be better to stuff those memories into humanity’s closet? … There is a former soldier I know who will only remember late at night, and will only speak about the war in a whisper, and even then only to one or two people- if he speaks about it at all. Wouldn’t it be better to put these memories away? Why are we doing this? Why is it important that we remember?

 We are not gathering to remember the glory of battle. Thankfully, that romantic notion has died. … We remember because we dare not forget. We remember because those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it. We gather to remember those who suffered because of our failure to make peace.

Peace has to be actively pursued. We have to put the same effort into peace as a soldier puts into running across a field and crawling under barbed wire. We have to cultivate the same courage a soldier has in facing someone shooting at them. Like those who lost their lives, we must be willing to sacrifice for peace. To not actively work towards this peace is to make war inevitable for our children. War comes because we have failed at peace.

The effort I’m speaking about isn’t just for politicians. The effort I’m speaking about is required by each of us. In each of our lives we must pursue peace. I’m talking about the grudges we hold onto. I’m talking about our unwillingness to forgive. I’m talking about the anger and contempt we feel towards others. I’m talking about the hurtful words we say. I’m talking about the frustration we feel when we don’t get our own way, and the offense we are unwilling to forget. … These are the seeds of war. … Peace requires all the effort of war. And that effort primarily takes place inside each of us.  

We can honour those who have fallen and suffered because of war best by actively removing the seeds of war from our own hearts. By learning to forgive. By replacing our anger and contempt with love. It is not easy. It will require effort, but peace is effort. If we want to honour those who have suffered because of war, then we will need to exert effort and cultivate courage. It is hard, but the consequence of not doing it is war. May we remember the effort of those who have fallen by making a courageous effort towards peace in our own lives so that our children and our grandchildren and our great grandchildren may know effort, and love, and courage, but not war.    Amen.

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