Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Remembering the wrong message

Governments wage war on people.
It may be disputed, but I think it was George Orwell who said "history is written by the winners." I mention that because a Facebook friend posted a conversation with his daughter today in which she asserted that Hitler could have taken over the whole world. My friend replied, if that happened we would be taught in school that Hitler was a good guy.

Yesterday and over the past few days, Canadian school children were exposed to a deluge of remembrances of wars past. I think teaching and understanding history are important parts of a good education, but as stated in the first sentence, history is almost entirely subjective.

Many of my social network friends think remembering and paying tribute to the fallen of past wars is a glorification of war. Maybe they believe making hero's of the dead encourages yet more belligerence. I doubt that, the human capacity for violence is as much a part of our nature as is our capacity for love. Just watch children (especially boys) playing for a little while.

For me the act of remembering is entirely valid. I wear the red poppy that is sold by Canadian Veterans to symbolize my general gratitude to soldiers, living and dead, for wars fought to preserve our liberties, though I wish I could be more specific. I don't consider nation building or peace keeping as roles that our military should have been involved with. So, while I think war is inevitable and sometimes essential, I also think it should be avoided if at all possible.

I'm sure all of the so-called hero's of war will tell you that they did not mean to be hero's in the moment of their heroic act, war is terrifying for all concerned, and if you don't believe that count all the soldiers that have returned scarred with PTSD, shell-shock.

My problem with the way our remembrances have evolved over the years is that the act of remembering has become the important lesson. Lest We Forget, Never Again, Put and end to war, don't hate etc. etc.

All of those injunctions are the wrong message. War should always be defensive, and self-defense is a virtue that we should practice. As such, a defensive war is an option, but should be a last resort.

Ending hate, is just ridiculous. Hate is a perfectly valid emotion, but no one is compelled to violent action because of hatred, and it's the worst reason to go to war.

The right message, the lesson of our remembrances, should be that war is horrible, must be avoided, but may be necessary to protect life, preserve liberty, and protect property.