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What Are We Remembering?

Posted on November 11th, 2006

Today is November 11, known as Remembrance Day in many of the Commonwealth countries. While the name is a little bit vague (what are we remembering?), those familiar with it will see how it fits nicely. The day is known as Armistice Day in other parts of the world, which is a bit more clear about what the day is all about. This name speaks of peace… it commemorates the day that the ceasefire was signed after World War I. Here in the US, though, the name was changed from Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day.

I pointed this out to a couple of other co-ops here in town and one of them — Lisa — pointed out how “Veteran’s Day” seemed to glorify war and war heroes. It doesn’t honour the pursuit or achievement of peace; instead, it touts those who were active at a time of violence. I don’t like that at all. People should not be encouraged to be war heroes… people should be encouraged to be peacemakers. And I know that it is possible for peace to be achieved through war, but avoiding war altogether is so much more ideal.

This got me thinking about whether or not we will ever know world peace. Call me cynical or whatever, but I really don’t think that it will happen. There is just too much inherent conflict at personal, regional, and cultural levels. And as the population continues to increase, governments will face mounting difficulties in keeping any sort of peace. We will need an entirely different ideology across the globe to even flirt with the idea of global peace because, with the present dominance of capitalism, there isn’t enough incentive to make a true push for it.

So while it is important to remember the price paid for the peace established in 1918, and to remember how fortunate we are to enjoy the relative peace and freedom that we do, we can’t lose sight of how far we, as a global society, have left to go. I find it appalling to know how much money governments around the world have spent and are spending on space exploration when there are so many problems that remain unsolved here. Our world is visibly broken, and those kinds of resources (intellectual and financial) could be so much better employed. Let’s fix our planet before we start thinking about exploring other ones, shall we?

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