Skip to main content

What Is the Point of Remembering?

It's November 11th, so you all know what and whom I'm writing about. When I sat down to write, I wasn't sure what thoughts I had. And now this is my preamble: the following is by and large a sermon to myself. I don't intend to point fingers anywhere but at my own self (and more broadly, at the whole of our culture).


Remembrance Day isn't exactly a "holiday," but to me it is one of the most important days that we recognize as a country. This morning I stood in the small chapel at my seminary, participating in a brief service of prayer and rememberance while the cannons at Queen's Park echoed off the bricks and a distant horn sounded the Last Post.
Grampie and I, last year.

The sounds of war.

Briefly, mutedly, minutely, a reminder of what too many people lived through for too many days, weeks, months.

The act of remembering. An important occasion.

But here's my question: does it matter? What is the point of stopping to remember and honour the past if we aren't actually learning from it?

A few weeks ago, I called Grampie. As we chatted, I let him know that I would definitely be in town for yesterday's church service. He had been asked to read Scripture, and as much as he protests getting up in front of a crowd, the request to participate is a much-needed recognition and beautiful way to honour him.

Our conversation, of course, turned to the war, and he said something I've heard many times.

"You know I don't talk much about what happened. I don't like to talk about what we went through."

And then he made a connection I've never heard from him before.

"You want to know what we saw? Just watch the news. The same things are still happening to the women and children today."

The same things.
Are happening today.

The things my Grampie spent years in the trenches for. The memories that haunt him, seventy years later.

Genocide. Rape. Murder. The worst types of torture and violence.

They are happening today.

And what are we doing?

Now, I am not saying it's time for a new world war. God forbid such a thing should happen. But in the seventy years since World War II, have we not gained new tools? Have we not learned anything? Do we have no solutions, no methods of prevention or intervention?

Do we still care so little for our fellow humans?

I feel convicted today that remembering is not enough. Or rather, that "remembering" is not simply stopping to say, "This happened." A remembrance that honours the lives lost or irrevocably changed by wars in our past must include a commitment to bring peace, to be people of peace, and to seek the peace of all humanity, most especially those who are being oppressed, whose lives are at risk in the present day.

We kid ourselves if we say that the world is at peace today. We may not be living in a time of active war here in Canada, but to say our world is at peace is to deny the atrocities, the indignities, and the sufferings of millions.

So what are we going to do about it? What am I going to do about it?

Do we simply sit and wait til our government legislates violent action? Are there no other means, no other options to actively, yet peacefully, fight intolerance, racism, gender inequality and oppression? What is the reasonable act of a person who lives in relative peace and safety in response to the millions who do not?

I don't know yet, entirely. But I'm giving it much thought. And I welcome yours.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Fostering FAQ: How Can You Say Goodbye?

It seems I finally have something(s) to say... Here's the first in a short (or maybe long?) series on Fostering FAQs. If you've got a question to add, feel free to comment/email/text/message me and maybe the next post will be in response.

--

8:30 am on Day 4 of parenting. I woke up in a panic two hours ago because I remembered that there is a baby and I am responsible for her (at least at 6:30am, when the man beside me will snore through anything). Now, I have put on clothes and eaten breakfast. The dogs are walked, there is a loaf of banana bread in the oven. My tea is steeping. Most importantly, Dream Baby is already down for her first nap.

Despite my morning efficiency, I'm already beginning to see that even with the happiest, most easygoing, and smiliest baby, like we somehow managed to be given, parenting is a grind. On Friday night, I couldn't join friends for $5 pints at a local joint. Instead, I blearily washed the same 8 bottles again, and then made another ba…

Fostering FAQ: How Long Will She Stay/Will You Adopt Her?

Our first foster baby came with about 18 hours notice; it was respite care, which means we had him for a few days while his regular foster family had a break/dealt with a family emergency. He stayed 3 nights, long enough to come to church and have a dozen people cooing over his little sleeping cheeks.  With each new visitor to our quiet corner, I explained again that he would be going back to his foster family the next day.

Barely a week later, we got a 9am phone call with a fostering request and by the same afternoon, we were snuggling her. This time, we had her for 4 days before church came around. Again, our community was keen to see the little one we had in tow. Again, the question, "How long will she stay?" And this time, "Are you going to adopt her?"

--

Here in Toronto, when a child is placed in foster care, it is always for an indefinite length of time. It depends on the parents' situation, and whether they are able to make a safe home environment for th…

Fostering FAQ: What's Her (Mom's) Story?

This is probably the second most common question I hear about the baby currently in our care, right after, "Will you keep her?"

It comes in many forms:

"So, what's her story?"
"Is her mom in the picture?"
"How did she end up in your home?
"Is her mom a drug addict?"
"How could a mom not love such a cute baby!"

I get it. It's natural curiousity, and I know I've asked similar questions of my friends who are adoptive parents.


But here's what I'm learning: a child's story is their own. And equally as important, the parent's story is their own.

Imagine how it might feel to hear that for the foreseeable future, you are not allowed to care for your child. On top of whatever difficult circumstances you are already in - perhaps poverty, social isolation, lack of adequate housing, domestic violence, intergenerational trauma, drug or alcohol dependency, low cognitive functioning, or a myriad of other complex strug…