Lest we forget...
A phrase oft repeated on Remembrance Day.
So many thousands of miles away from Canada, in a ship off the coast of Africa, I'm cut off from so many things. I don't watch the news (frankly, I rarely watched it at home), or have a newspaper, or watch TV. The only media I have is whatever websites I choose to visit. The lack of advertisements bombarding me every second is a relief, but I also miss things. I had to purposefully remember thanksgiving. And I almost forgot it was halloween, until people started posting pictures of costumes.
There was no one selling poppies to remind me that Remembrance Day was coming.
And so it arrived silently, no poppies, no day off from work, no 11am service, no veterans in their uniforms. Holidays that are stripped of their traditions and media influence become... whatever we choose to make them...
Which brings me to the question, what are we taking the time to remember?
I grew up in a tradition that teaches non-resistance. I have no relatives that died fighting a war. Not that I don't appreciate those who fought. But it's a little less personal.
Instead, I'm thinking more of how easily we forget. Easy to forget the freedoms that peace has brought.
What should we remember?
We should remember:
-we live in a democracy, even if it's not perfect.
-child labor is no longer acceptable
-it is unacceptable to beat or attack another person, even if, especially if, they are your spouse or child.
-we do not have to fear that rebels will attack our homes, villages, families
-there is always enough to eat, or somewhere to go if we don't have anything
-we have rights, and a government that (mostly) upholds them.
-we have healthcare, and enough professionals to treat everyone
-we are free to practice whatever religion we choose.
I could go on... and on and on and on. Because the truth is, there are many countries around the world where these privileges and freedoms don't exist. Places where government is so corrupt that positive change is almost impossible. Places that have just pulled out of or are on the brink of war. Places where children are forced into the war. Places where there is no war but there are no rights either.
Walking through Freetown, Sierra Leone last year, there were so many little reminders of the civil war they had just had. Holes in buildings and abandoned buildings. Missing gutter stones (that hide the black water). Amputees from the war. And oddly, an enhanced sense of community. For them the war is still a fresh wound, one they are trying to heal from.
We live in a fallen world. I do not expect to see an end to war, injustice and strife. But I don't plan on being indifferent to it either. At home in your safe little spot on the couch, life's little worries seem big. Take a moment and be thankful you have the energy to worry over those things. Be thankful for the relatives you HAVEN'T lost in the war, and for the ones (perhaps) who have made that sacrifice. Be thankful for the amazing blessings that a country not at war has brought you. And maybe, if you're so inclined, think a bit about the freedoms and privileges that you have. Ponder them for a moment. Think if there's a way you can support those in your community or your country. Think if there's a way you can impact the world one small part at a time. Because it's one person at a time that makes a difference.