Today, Remembrance Sunday is a day we are encouraged to remember and commemorate the fallen dead who fought in World War I, World War II and countless other wars since.
I visited the Polish War Memorial in Ruislip, West London, this afternoon and took a moment to reflect.
Whilst I fully applaud the soldiers of African, American, British, Caribbean, Polish and all other nationalities who fought for us, something jars with me about this whole remembrance and Tower of London Poppy exhibition business.
I understood the message to be “never again”. Yet, just 21 years after World War I ended in 1918 we had World War II upon us in 1939.
Today, 100 years on from the start of World War I there are at least 10 wars (defined as those with at least 1,000 battle related deaths per annum) currently going on plus 8 serious armed conflicts (defined as those resulting in deaths of 200-999 people).
You could argue that the world didn’t really learn from World Wars I and II as war seems to have been ever present since, well, the end of war! Thousands of men have died in all of these wars. I understand and value the role of soldiers all too well. My own Father was a Soldier in the British Army. At times like this, as world peace has not truly been established, it does make you question the point of war. What exactly was the point of the sacrifices made, which, for many men, cost them their own lives, in order to protect our nation and other countries around the world. Obviously at the time the need and reason were clear, but in terms of the longer term ramifications I question what the world has learnt. Maybe it’s naive of me, but if the lessons of history had been learned, would so many nations still be at war? Other than remembering the fallen dead of course Remembrance Sunday ought to be about so much more than that.
Furthermore, what signal does this send out to our young men about the value we have put on their lives’, for after all, the reality is that it is predominantly men sent to war. Men putting their lives on the line. Are world leaders telling us that a man’s life is easily dispensable? That a man’s life is far less valuable than a woman’s? If 99% of soldiers were women what would the world be like today? I wrote a short article on this very subject, published here in November 2012.
On top of that, we have instances in Britain and right across the world of young people and grown adults seemingly disrespecting the peace that these soldiers have died for by valuing another human beings life so lowly that they will kill for something as relatively trivial as another person’s mobile phone or trainers; or because someone happens to be in the wrong “Endz” at the wrong time or because someone upset them at school or university so they go on a mad, desperate shooting rampage.
We have all manner of unspeakable child abuse and cruelty rife around the country and around the world. Is all this what brave soldiers laid down their lives for?
If we want a better world, a more peaceful, less violent and cruel world, surely we need to bring back the love. To create an environment where decisions are made where love for mankind is at the core of decision making – be that personal or political, local or international. That it is important to love one another irrespective of differences in religion, faith, race, culture, wealth, gender, sexuality, disability and for all manner of reasons countries and individuals go to war, including territorial disputes. If that is central to your thinking, the option to go to war or remain at war arguably becomes less of an option.
Maybe it would help if world leaders with the authority and power to lead their countries into or out of war consider more carefully these matters. Consider the purpose, value and likely outcomes of being at war; the society and moral values they are creating and equally the value they are putting on men’s lives. Do we love and value our men as much as our women?
That to me seems far more relevant and of more importance than wearing a poppy, visiting the Tower of London and harking back to past conflicts that in the long term do not really seem to have made the world a safer place.
© Tiemo Talk of the Town
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What would the world be like if 99% of Soldiers were women? – Tiemo article 18.11.12
15 articles about men and war that will make you think again – Inside-Man 09.11.14
Wars in progress – International Relations – 30.07.14
There Will Be Peace
There will be peace: when attitudes change;
when self-interest is seen as part of common interest;
when old wrongs, old scores, old mistakes are deleted from the account;
when the aim becomes co-operation and mutual benefit rather than revenge or seizing maximum personal or group gain;
when justice and equality before the law become the basis of government;
when basic freedoms exist; when leaders – political, religious, educational – and the police and media wholeheartedly embrace the concepts of justice, equality, freedom, tolerance, and reconciliation as a basis for renewal;
when parents teach their children new ways to think about people. There will be peace: when enemies become fellow human beings.
© David Roberts 1999.