In Australia and New Zealand next week is ANZAC day. Officially a memorial day for and in honour of the soldiers that died fighting in World War One and Two: the ANZAC soldiers. In reality, like the memorial days other countries have for their wars of the past, it is a celebration of nationalism and war heroes, with many families honouring members of their families they believe fought in those wars – although a recent news report said that many of those heroes never really existed – and politicians appearing on TV holding speeches.
November 11th, also named “Poppy Day”, is a more worldwide memorial day for those same wars, in which those who want to honour dead soldiers wear red poppies on their clothing and those who want to remember civilian victims wear white poppies. Of course, apart from the people of Darwin, Australia and New Zealand did not have many civilian casualties, and they also don’t have much of a history – other than colonialism, which is unpopular – so they put everything they have into these celebrations.
I will not go into a long discussion about the rights and wrongs of war. I did that last year in two posts: http://judgmenthurts.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/heroes-and-cowards/ and http://nonentiti.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/lest-we-forget/
In this post, I merely want to focus on the big 2015 celebration – the 100th anniversary of the First World War – that is coming up next year. I believe that it is about time, in light of the continuous environmental threats we are living with, that the people of this Earth start getting serious about wanting peace – as opposed to just paying lip service to the idea, because that is the popular and politically correct thing to do.
I am not sure whether people can even live without war – it is certainly not easy with overpopulation and crowded nations – and the cause of that may lie deep in their psychology, but that is not a reason not to try.
The very first step in that is to start acknowledging what causes and perpetuates wars: that celebrating soldiers as heroes is telling the next generation that killing other people because your government says you must, is celebrating servants to the tyrant, not heroes. That celebrating your dead ancestors as heroes is celebrating that they lost their one young life long before their time instead of mourning that wasted young life. That this same message, if expressed in front of your children, is telling them you would value them more dead than alive, would the situation call for it. That saying you want peace, while simultaneously honouring soldiers, is hypocritical.
And for those ready to attack me for this post:
No, I didn’t live through the horrors of those wars – Did you?
No, I am not related to ANZAC (or any) soldiers, so I cannot possibly feel the loss as you must.
I am merely the descendant of a Jewish family that lived in Holland during World War Two, and of which very few members survived. Those who did – my parents and grandparents – preferred not to talk about it; they wanted to forget. They certainly never saw a cause for celebration in memorial days. I don’t want to end up like them and I don’t wish such horrors on my children. I also don’t wish these horrors on the millions of children who are living with war today.
So I call for those people who are serious about wanting a future without war for their children and grandchildren, to use the next year to voice their concerns and organize an answer to the big hero worshipping celebrations the governments are planning. Instead of using war memorials for telling how wonderful wars are, because they produce heroes, we should use those days to remember why we need peace.
Soldiers don’t exist because there are wars; wars exist because there are soldiers. (In the Real World). That is all there is to it.
It would be a start if we could get more people wearing white poppies than red ones: more people wearing a symbol of peace rather than of blood. It would be a true achievement if we could get most countries to agree that 2015 will be the last war celebration. We have a year. If you really value life and the lives of your children, please share this message and start doing what you can to make 2015 the very last war celebration. One hundred is enough already.