10 November 2015

Lest we forget—enough already

Lest we forget? How could we possibly? At this time of year we are overwhelmed with noise about not forgetting.

Now the warrior worshipers are demanding that stores not put up their Xmas displays until after November 11th. It is disrespectful, they say. Frankly, I wouldn't be unhappy if stores didn't put up their displays until the last week before Xmas, but it seems to me we are overdoing this Remembrance thing.

Blasphemy, some will say. You should be ashamed. Those dead soldiers died for your freedom to write your blog and say what you think. Nonsense. No one in the Canadian military ever died for my freedom, for other people's yes, but not for mine.

Even the fighting for other people's freedom has been a mixed bag. For example, during WWI while Canadians were trying to protect the Belgians and the French from the Germans, Belgium was oppressing and exploiting the Congolese, and France the Vietnamese. And, of course, the British were doing the same thing to Indians and Africans. And as soon as the war was over, France and Britain greedily gobbled up the remains of the Ottoman Empire to add to their ill-gotten gains. In short, we fought for freedom for some at the expense of others.

The Second World War echoed the First. The Japanese were bad guys because they wanted to do what the European powers had done—build an empire. And since the Europeans had expropriated most of Asia, i.e. Japan's back yard, why shouldn't the Japanese get a piece of the action? Canadian troops died keeping Asia safe for European imperialists.

In Europe, the Germans too wanted to build an empire, but we would have none of that. Subjugating Asians and Africans was quite acceptable in those days, but subjugating white people was simply not on. Nonetheless, the brutality of the Nazis put us on the side of the angels and in that case at least Remembrance is justified.

One of the most politically correct traditions in today's society demands the veneration of warriors. As someone who has little respect for the military, I find myself on the incorrect side. In the minds of many, warrior is the highest calling of man, but I simply don't believe that a profession dedicated to the fine art of killing people is a particularly noble one. So no poppy for me.


  1. Thank you for sharing your mind on this. I agree with you.
    The process has become a strange form of idolatry. I know what these people have done and I certainly hope to never have to do it myself and for that, I'm thankful.
    But ... these people are being used now to send a bigger message that I loathe. This message is that it's important to keep pumping public dollars into the endless death machines and harbingers of hate that scour the planet looking to pick a fight. Tens of billions in Canada and trillions world wide are spent on war machines and funneling wealth into the pockets of the few.
    Ending war and pushing humanity towards new heights are the greatest ways to honour their efforts. Ending military spending is the most important first step.

  2. "When you go to war, you think you're fighting for your country, you're not, you're fighting for your government" Howard Zinn

  3. Bill, I've had some very anguished and personal experiences with two war vets, my dad and a close uncle, that resonate every year as Remembrance Day looms. My dad returned with horrible wounds from his head to his calves. My uncle returned with even more debilitating wounds, a shattered mind. In many ways their families all got to live their wars, in my case for more than half a century. This year I decided to purge what convention said I must remember. What possible good was there in remembering all those bad times when that merely obscured all the very good times we also had with those two fine men? It's not forgiveness for none is called for but it's a similar process of remembering them not for what was done for them but for that other part of their lives they shared with us, all the things they gave us and taught us.

    I won't let Remembrance Day darken their memory again. Enough.

  4. Bill
    I agree with you.
    My Dad fought in Belgium in WW1 with the British army. He never talked much about the war but when pressed he emphasized only two thing...mud and the incompetence of the leadership. He immigrated to Canada at 21....but his whole life here was marked with the residual effects of trench foot and lungs compromised by chlorine gas. As long as he could he attended Remembrance Day ceremonies but eschewed the Legion. He never said why one and not the other, I can only speculate. Last evening I was at a Legion event in my city. The guest speaker rhapsodized at length about how Canadians had contributed to protection of soldiers/airmen from physical harm...steel helmets, compression suits armored vehicle. All of which left me to wonder what the (Canadian) military is doing to protect our soldiers today. So many are coming home with "invisible" head injuries. What will they do to prevent shell shock today and tomorrow...thicker helmets? The next war Canada enters probably will have very little mud but the incompetence remains.
    Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.