Tuesday, November 10, 2015

To Remember is to Work for Peace

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day in the United States.  I grew up in Canada, where my experience was with Remembrance Day, also celebrated on November 11.  Similarly, it is a day to celebrate and give thanks for those who gave their lives in war, particularly in the World Wars.  In Canada it is traditional to wear a red poppy as a sign of remembrance and respect.  You may have noticed these poppies if you've been following the recent news of the Canadian elections; all the newly elected officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are wearing poppies.

The symbol comes from the poem "In Flanders Fields," by John McCrae.  It speaks of the poppies growing between the cross-marked graves of soldiers killed in the trenches of WWI Belgium.  It's a poem I copied and decorated with red poppies along with "Lest We Forget" posters. I actually gave this very little thought as a child, but now revisiting it, I realize that it calls those who live to ‘take up our quarrel with the foe’!

It is appropriate to remember deaths as a result of war.  It is in fact important to remember: war kills.  Our remembering should be an act of saying ‘no’ war, to loving our enemies, to reconciling rather than to continuing the ‘quarrel’! Jesus' way is the way of peace and we, his followers, remember so that we can work and walk in that way.  Mennonite Central Committee Canada has for years been offering red poppy-alternate buttons for peace-minded followers of Jesus to wear.  They are a witness and a reminder of exactly this call on our lives.  “To remember is to work for peace.”

Many schools have assemblies that offer stories about war 'heroes', or invite military recruiters to make presentations during this week.  What alternative narratives are we offering?  What peacemakers can we remember who worked during times of war or who make peace in our communities?  What stories can we tell and celebrate?  Who are the people in our lives and in our families who have said no to violence and embraced peace instead?  What small acts of peace-making can we do this Veteran’s Day?  

Check out One Thousand Acts of Peace for small acts of peace you could do this day and ever day.  And this video from MCC Canada.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you for this, Amy. A simple reminder delivered with love and conviction.