Today is Remembrance Day in Canada. It's a day to remember that war is evil and horrible. It's a day to remember that war represents the ultimate failure of a civilization.
War is not glorious. People who kill other people are not heroes. The people they kill are not heroes. We are shamed when we turn average citizens into murderers. We lament their deaths because it means we have failed in our responsibility to maintain peace. They paid the price of our failure.
Soldiers are a necessary evil, like prison guards. The long range goal of a humane society is to eliminate armies (and prisons). Once a year, on this day, we need to think about how far we are from achieving that goal and what we can do to make it a reality.
We need to remember our past—the dirty, ugly, face of death and destruction—and resolve never to repeat it. We need to apologize to those men and women we forced to endure those horrors. We need to promise our children that we won't make them go to war.
No war is necessary. Tanks, bombers, and battleships are not necessary. I dream of an eleventh day of the eleventh month when, at the eleventh hour, no cannons are fired, no soldiers are marching, and no fighter planes are flying overhead. That will be a day to remember.
The greatest generation will be the one that avoids war. Perhaps our children's children will be that generation.
[Photo: Dresden, February 14, 1945]
[Poster by Lorraine Schneider (1925-1972), for the Los Angeles organization Another Mother for Peace, 1967.]