Remembrance Day is always troubling for me as a pacifist. As those who have served in some military capacity—particularly those who died in conflict—are venerated, my Canadian niceness doesn’t want to interrupt the proceedings, especially if people who might read this have relatives who have served.1 But I am convicted that violence towards other human beings can never be justified in any context, and I resist the underlying narrative that war is necessary.

I thought of writing some current thoughts, but apparently I’ve become a link blogger, and it turns out that my previous incarnation as someone who wrote things has remarked on the subject. Remembering Differently says much what I would want to say:

Remembrance Day is a day where we’re supposed to remember, but only in a certain way. We are only to remember the war dead as heroes, not as victims or suckers or murderers or villains. We are only to remember the wars in which they were murdered in as honourable, particularly WWII–the only war of the last century where a decent rhetorical case can be made to name it an honourable war. And of course, we are only to remember those killed on our side.

There’s also a good bit about the shift from celebrating the ceasing of hostilities under Armistice Day to honouring veterans in Remembrance Day. And Today I Remember is a set of alternate remembrances:

Today I remember all those who have been murdered for the crime of being born on the wrong side of arbitrarily drawn lines on maps.

I’m grateful for the cosmic luck of the draw where I live in a place and time where I haven’t experienced the horrors of war, and I recognize what an exception that is in human history, up to and including today.2 The best way we can honour the war dead is to stop adding to their number. I truly hope that we one day beat our swords in ploughshares.3

  1. If I’m honest with myself, there’s also always the part of me that would prefer to be liked and disingenuous, rather than forthright and disliked. 
  2. I could be accused of being something akin to a fair-weather pacifist, and the accusation would have its merits. But I am also a Mennonite, a people who have paid a price for their commitment to following Jesus in the way of nonviolence. 
  3. Cool biblical imagery aside, I wonder what we could do with the implements of war in a world without war? Bombers? Tanks? Predator drones? How could we turn these things to constructive use? I hope we get the chance. 

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