As I once again watched the Remembrance Day Service at the Cenotaph, for the first time in six and a half decades a part of me felt a violent sense of anger that truly shocked me. As I sought answers to why this emotion had emerged with such force it became clear that, whilst the very act of remembering pays an essential tribute to the many, often young men and women who gave up their lives for our future . . . little has changed.
We have remembered but not learned!
As I look back over my own life, on many occasions I am reminded of the mistakes I have made and the pain and suffering I have caused to those I have loved, as well as to acquaintances and even complete strangers. I am sure I, like many, am not proud of these episodes. Whilst the guilt is sometimes difficult to deal with, I take reassurance and courage from the fact that I have learned from these lessons and consciously try hard not to repeat them again, often with success.
It is here that I recognise the source of the anger I experienced today. In the last two world wars some 70 million people have given their lives, either voluntarily or as victims of the aggression (Encyclopaedia of Death & Dying). That’s more people than the entire population of Britain in 2013! The entire population wiped out . . . for what? What have we learned? Or, more importantly what have our leaders learned?!
All I hear to that last question is a deafening silence, made more obscene by the words of the hymn always sung before the march past:
“Oh God our help in ages past
Our hope for years to come”
It was only a few years ago that our brave men and women were sent to put their lives at risk, yet again, but this time for political reasons that we were subsequently told were backed up by misinformation designed to boost the careers of those in charge.
Not only has this elephantine loss of life taught nothing to those in charge, it has also demonstrated unequivocally that human life has been relegated to a tool of war which can provide hundreds of billions in profits to those who not only aid its enactment but also the rebuilding works carried out as a result of that death and destruction.
Remembrance Day, to me, should certainly be a time when we show great respect for those who have fallen and which we do superbly. It should also be a time of joy and relief that we have learned from their sacrifice by what we have achieved since they laid down their lives.
Sadly I cannot see any trace of effective and growing global bodies of governance and education that are uniting us as a species and relegating uncontrolled human aggression to a thing of the past. We know that in managing our fallibilities we grow as human beings. It is obvious however that our growth as a species is being held back by outdated thinking, driven by personal gain.
Perhaps Remembrance Day 2014 should be reflected upon, as we move into an election year, helping us to bring focus to the need for New VISIONARY Leaders capable of the changes so essential now to our future survival.
We deserve better and we should expect better, for the sake of those who thought they were fighting for a brighter future!