Lest We Forget

I’ve been feeling so conflicted about Remembrance Day. For years I have been telling myself to just remember the things I’m proud of, the feeling I got reading Rilla of Ingleside and hearing about the brave and innocent Canadian boys who went off in World Wars I and II to countries they had probably never heard of, just because they were told it was right and their duty. Sad, but very noble, and something missing from today’s mostly narcissistic society. Or I concentrate on the brave peacekeepers, medics, true journalists, etc., who are fighting for peace. And I smile and wear my poppy.

I still haven’t put my poppy on this year. I watched Rick Mercer’s rant to see if it had any insight for me and the way I was feeling. I used to love Rick Mercer, especially when he was on 22 Minutes, the daring and controversial show that took unexpected and confrontational positions on everything in Canadian life. 22 Minutes spoke for me so often in the days when the comedy was Canada’s most watched news program. Rick’s rant was, as it always is lately, vapid, meaningless, and completely inoffensive to anyone anywhere. It offended me. Deeply.

I took a short spin through the twitter accounts of some Canadian MP’s, those people we pay to ‘confront the issues’. Remember glory values sacrifice families. Yes, but where was the discussion about our role today and why / whether we should be proud? Wrong day? Okay. Can we talk tomorrow? Because I can’t put my poppy on. Justin Trudeau took a break from putting mascara on his moustache to raise money for pharmaceutical companies to use the word valorous and say politicians must be worthy of the valorous soldiers. Mascara is more dangerous than I thought. Has anyone spoke of the problems in the world and what our soldiers are doing to help bring peace and fairness? Or is it enough that they fought when they were asked?

The Canadian people need someone to start speaking to communicate, not just to avoid offending. Traditionally, our comedians have done it. Where are they? Where are the politicians with passion, the Levesques and Trudeaus, for that matter the John A MacDonalds, who are willing to offend and to make a stand? Because we have a lot to talk about, and we need to start communicating for real. This inoffensiveness is extremely offensive and we need to stop tolerating it.

It’s not that I don’t admire the brave people who have left home and given up their physical and emotional health and sometimes their lives to try to bring peace to the world. I am extremely grateful. But I want to know that what they are doing is right, that they are not being made to hand soldiers over to be tortured, that they are not being made to support an evil empire in its plans for world domination, that they are not being used as bureaucratic mercenaries to serve another country, that they are not being political pawns. I want to be certain that their own behaviour is above reproach. I want to say I admire the Canadian Armed Forces and I am grateful and I do not support almost everything they have done lately. How do I fit all of that on a poppy?

2 thoughts on “Lest We Forget

  1. I had to pinch myself, when I first read about the english remembering so fondly the Opium Wars. The lowest of the low in the history of their colonialism, a conflict which is essentially a giant robbery of drugs. Too bad it didn’t happen in Colombia or they would be celebrating the Crack Cocaine Wars now. How do you ask someone to realize the futility of something like the Malvinas-Falklands battle, when they still rehearse the “glory” of the darkest colonialism?

  2. Exactly! Like reading the old books where ‘pacifist’ was the worst thing you could call someone … going to war in those days was a brave and noble thing to do, and if those were your times, it’s hard to blame the soldiers. And for some people today, they are still being brought up to think it’s a brave and noble thing to do, even unquestioningly. With today’s methods of war, I find it impossible to believe it is ever the right answer, much less unquestioningly.

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