What do we most lend our strength to? To what cause do we bear arms. Are we so bound by the current mores of a society that attempts to define us on terms we have not voluntarily acquiesced to?
Some would say we have choice in all things; others would beg to differ. At what point does one decide to stand for or against something? Or someone? What standard of forbearance has to be breached, before we say enough! I protest! I have to do something about this; even if it means your demise over mine.
War. Battles. Conflict. The trifecta of dynamic global tension. It has ever been thus since the dawn of time. From Cain and Able, all the way down through time to Saddam Hussein & George Bush; Osama Bin Laden and Barack Obama. Today it is terrorism vs western ideology. Or is it?
Ideas once given a voice and a receptive ear, become ideologies. We sometimes forget that these are a result of hearts that have been radically affected in some dramatic way; whether for good or ill.
Nov 11th is the day that Canada pauses to remember. Remember what exactly? Most Commonwealth countries (and some that are not) will pause on that day to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to their countries during a time of war. Why would any individual take it upon his or herself to voluntarily leave hearth and home to travel to a place that in all likelihood not only despises them, but is fully bent on ensuring their allotted time on earth is shortened as expeditiously as possible? Courage? Honour? Commitment? Duty? Yes, but I am sure there is more to it.
There are those who argue that all wars are wrong. These are logical, intelligent, reasoned individuals, who have every right to their opinions. I would counter with this; while all wars leave deep scars (some visible, most not); separate loved ones, (physically, emotionally and some permanently); create global economic crises and divide countries, not all are wrong. A previous article headline in the Nov 10th 2011 Globe & Mail by columnist Judith Timson, was titled: I wear a poppy for its victims, but don't support war.
Let's be honest here; yes, war is messy, vicious, and quite easily brings to the forefront some of humanity's baser predilections, but there are times when it is necessary and therefore should be supported. There are those who are quite vociferous about how Canada is wasting the best of its youth and by extension its future, by sending soldiers to engage in what many construe as unnecessary. I say the sacrifices that have been made since World War I and prior, risk becoming null and void with that stream of thinking. It is true that many of those precious lives lost in past conflicts, could have (should have) been avoided; but the greater overarching view of history shows that we have a long way yet to go before wars are eradicated altogether, much less man's penchant for it.
I am not a soldier. I have never been to war. I know that I cannot even begin to comprehend what kind of terrible toll is thrust upon our young men and women serving in far flung locales. I am quite certain that what they experience is far outside even their highly trained, disciplined and equipped comfort zones. Certainly light years beyond mine. Yet they serve willingly. It is an honour to even live in the same country that birthed these individuals, whose sacrifice affords me the privileges I enjoy. I am not for one moment romanticizing or encouraging war; but there is a time and a place where it is required. Oh how I wish it could be otherwise.
We are a Global Village. Like it or not, you share Terra Firma with fundamentalists of all stripes; corrupt dictators, drug addicts, self-serving politicians (please note that not all politicians have given up on their higher ideals of actually serving their constituents), just to name a few. The fact that they are conflicts simmering at any given time, about to erupt into some sort of conflagration is almost inevitable.
Lest we lose all hope, we have also had individuals of moral fortitude, who in the face of conflict, have stood tall, even risking and in some cases succumbing to death because of that risk. Here are a few such individuals, in no particular order and irrespective of their individual belief systems, who have left a lasting impact on our world. Martin Luther King; Mother Theresa; Benazir Bhutto; Abraham Lincoln; Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
As you take part in the humanitarian, economic and social privileges accessible to us today, regardless of your viewpoint on war, why not take a risk. Remember those who risked all for us over the past decades. Most of these freedoms have been borne through the crucible of conflict; both domestic and global.