As some of you may know, we're currently in the French Pyrenees at Base Calames (http://www.basecalames.com/index.html)in Bédeilhac, helping out with reworking the garden, odd jobs, cooking/baking and helping out with the children. It's a beautiful part of the world, and Jon and Deb and their two little boys are great. Jon and Deb have come over from England to open a gite/guesthouse/B&B for people interested in staying in the area (FYI, the wine is SUPER DUPER inexpensive and really quite good!!!), but more importantly this is a mecca for rockclimbing, and Jon is able to give lessons and he and his ex-pat buddies are always up for a climb when the time and weather is right.
Jon asked if we wanted to go to the church that is pretty much in the backyard for the Remembrance Day service. I felt it important to represent Jon/Deb, but I was interested in seeing what the service was going to be, since it was outside of the church and in France. I've sat/stood through a lot of Remembrance Day "events" in my day. As a student and as a teacher. They've always been in school. Today though was the first time I was able to really pull something relevant out of what was going on. Mind you, it was in French, which I don't understand well at all.
We in Canada have not been attacked or bombed in our lifetimes. We in Canada have not had our country occupied. We in Canada have not gone to war with imminent danger at the front door. In France, regardless of how you feel about the French, their army or their language, this has been the case. Jon said he was told that every village in France has had someone killed in fighting in one of the two World Wars.
I carry a bag, and on it reads, "I will only believe war is the answer if as much money is spent on peace and it fails." I truly believe this. Please don't tell me about Afghanistan and how Canada, the U.S., the UK and others need to be there for any reason. Please don't tell me that the U.S. needed to return to Iraq after Operation Desert Storm. It's all about greed, ego and money. And about testosterone. Women don't start wars. In large part having to do with many countries (wrongly) believing that women can't lead a country, that women aren't equals and that women shouldn't vote.
I understand why there are armies in the Middle East, where neighbours fight neighbours. I don't understand why it's necessary in this day and age for war to continue with no rhyme or reason.
More than twenty years ago I wrote a poem. I was in high school and idealistic. I still am idealistic. I believe in the good of people. I believe that war is not the answer. For once the boys and their toys need to put up and shut up. George Bush/Barack Obama, Tony Blair/Gordon Brown, Jean Chretien/Paul Martin/Steven Harper need to strap on fatigues, a helmet and go into battle in the trenches with a rifle against Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and/or Kim Jong-il.
I'd like to see what they have to say about war after that.
There was recently an awful killing by an unbalanced man in Texas. He was a psychiatrist who treated army personnel returning from battle. He knew from hearing their stories how awful the realities of war are. Regardles of his religious affiliation, he came unhinged and shot more than 30 people, killing 13 of them, at last count. This was a personal war he was fighting in his head. Now think about all those men and women who are sent to war by the leaders of their country.
Some come home in a flag-draped coffin. Some come home with limbs missing. Some come home with a time bomb ticking in their head.
We're unleashing them on our society.
Still believe in war?
I believe in peace.
I hope that today you reflect on what you "have". The people in your life and your material possessions. What would you be willing to do to protect your way of life, the people that are important to you and the things you have? People all over the world have been faced with that question many times, with another country crossing their borders. I consider myself lucky not having faced the issue, and I suspect/hope that in my lifetime I won't have to deal with it.
Most people (back home) who will read this are still asleep. Most people in North America are quite asleep to the realities of war. Peace is something we know. I'd like to keep it that way.