The “hawks” among us pause to honour the fallen and to imagine the glories of war.
The “doves” among us pause to mourn the fallen and to imagine that war is never necessary.
As a person of faith, a progressive Christian, I believe in the message of the Christ that we are all of one world, inseverably connected one to the other and that we are capable of rising above the self-interest that drives conflict and persecution.
As a follower of the Golden Rule, I believe in the interconnectedness of all things and of the need to act in defense of the defenseless; to insist on equality for all people and respect for all that exists.
As an armchair politician, I recognize the need for compromise and accommodation in an imperfect world; but not at the expense of the principle that all are born with innate value and self-worth. We have the right to expect those who lead us to represent that value; to only ask those who put themselves in harm’s way to do so in defense of it.
As a citizen of one of the greatest democracies on the planet, it is my duty to hold the leaders of my country to that standard.
And it is my humble privilege to extend my deepest and most heartfelt appreciation to the men and women who defend the freedom I all-too-often take for granted.
We can envision a world where war is unknown, where swords are beaten into plowshares.
Until we achieve that vision, armed conflict will sometimes be unavoidable. And in those conflicts, good men and women, both those in uniform and those who simply have the misfortune to live where conflict comes, will suffer and die.
Until we achieve that vision, we can – at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – pause to remember, to honour, and to mourn, those who have, in an imperfect world, made the ultimate sacrifice for an unrealized ideal.
John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” closes with this -
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
To keep that faith, we are called – in our faith lives, in our political lives, and in our daily lives – to “take up the quarrel” with those who benefit from a world of strife and fear and persecution and pain.
Let us be certain that we do not forget the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month;
let us never fail to honour those who have fallen;
and let us take up the torch that they’ve passed to us.
Let us hold it high.
And for all of us