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give peace a chance

John Lennon – 30 years on…

It has now been 30 years since the assassination of a man of peace. And still the memories of that day stick in my mind as if it were only yesterday.

And still peace is only a lofty and unattained goal. War and the suffering that results from war is rampant. Nations spend fortunes on machines of destruction. And brave men and women of many nations are fighting and dying for from their homes.

I don’t often re-post something I have written previously, but I liked this when I wrote it last year. And I don’t think I could put it any better today.


I remember with great clarity what I was doing when I heard about Lennon’s death. In my parent’s kitchen, making coffee and listening to CFTR radio, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Who would kill this man of peace?

Although I was too young to have really “experienced” the ’60′s I felt a certain kinship to John Lennon and his hope of peace for all… a hope that I carry to this day and proudly have emblazoned on my chest.

Grade 12 American History was my first class at Parry Sound High School that morning and the mood was downright moribund.  Most of us felt that something tragic and sad had just occurred and the vibes in the room reflected that. But we carried on with our day and our lives. We were young, invincible and hopeful.

Yes, we were hopeful that Lennon’s life and death might touch someone or some people who would have the power to reject violence and embrace peace wherever possible. Yet the Cold War was raging. Military analysts were predicting USSR would intervene in Poland soon. Led Zeppelin was breaking up. Yeah, we were 18, optimistic, and in hindsight, oh-so naïve.

Twenty-nine years later we are still a world gripped by war and violence and all of the suffering that the young and old must endure because of it.  Perhaps it is the human condition to reject peace and embrace violence. Perhaps we really have yet to evolve to a stage where it is the other way around.

Peace, Mr. Lennon. The world still misses you.


When did Canada become so militaristic?

So tomorrow is Remembrance Day, right smack in the middle of Veterans Week.  In the past few weeks, there have been interviews with ex-soldiers on CBC and elsewhere. Rick Hillier’s book is doing well. Afghanada is a radio serial on the MotherCorp and by all accounts is listened to by, if not legions of CBCers, at least a battalion or two. I’ve caught a couple of episodes… good stuff.

Don Cherry cries on the air every Saturday night when a soldier falls.

Red ribbons are everywhere. Many wear red on Fridays. There are public debates on whether the Feds should make Remembrance Day observance mandatory by businesses and schools instead of voluntary, as they are now.

When did this augmented sense of militarism happen. Did I miss the memo? Veterans Week? How long has that been around?

Any reader of this blog will know that I am very much a peacenik. I do not believe in war. At all – with VERY few exceptions.

I do not believe in the military, but know that at this stage of human evolution, military forces will continue to exist for a long time to come.

I do not diss soldiers and certainly wish them well but do not believe in what they do. I admire that they believe that their job is important and that they willingly put their lives on the line in this belief… I simply don’t share their beliefs.

And the fact that my point of view and those of others like me is becoming increasingly marginalized really disturbs me. Canada as a quiet peacekeeping nation was tolerable for a peacenik like me. Canada as a boastful, über-patriotic, militaristic, American-like nation is not.

But how and when did this happen?

It is generally agreed that there has been a marked move to the social right of the political spectrum in this country. The current government in particular, with it’s roots in western social conservatism, has been actively supporting a guns and god agenda. The more that a citizenry feels allegiance to the “flag”, the more likely it will be to turn a blind eye to policies that they may otherwise find distasteful. I’m not saying that Harpy is completely behind all of the renewed rah-rah, but he is a keen strategist who is seizing upon the rightward shift and the tangential increase in support for things traditionally supported by the right – e.g., the military.

There is also the lingering 9-11 effect. I think Canucks, like our southern neighbours, felt more than a bit threatened by the events of that day. We retreated into a comfortable cocoon where we called on the comforts of bygone years to assuage our fears. We, even a bit, looked to the folks holding the guns to protect us from the perceived threat. And when we were not hit by a terrorist plot (at least not yet), we gave an appreciative nod to the cops and the military for a job well-done.

I find that as I age, I am becoming more set in my ways when it comes to my basic belief systems.  For example, I feel much more strongly now than in my 30’s that opposition to war in almost any case is a morally just stance and that there is almost NO moral justification to take up arms. Too much suffering – both by those actively participating in a conflict and by those caught in the cross-fire (civilians) – and, IMHO, to little morally justifiable end.

I do not think we should be engaged in foreign conflicts and believe that it is a completely unnecessary waste of young and talented lives. I mourn these men and women while simultaneously condemning the governments that sent them into harm’s way.

Again, I do not demean these brave folks. But what about those men and women who also put their lives at risk for their country or community? What about the cops? Firefighters and other emergency professionals? Do they not at least merit equal treatment? Many die in the line of duty in acts that are moral and just by any measure. There is seldom ambiguity – especially in the case of firefighters.

I know I’m going to catch some flak for this post. Yet the main reason I have a “blog” is to express my unsolicited opinions and ideas openly and freely and I should not be held back by the prospect of being flamed.

And yes, I will wear a poppy. But only on November 11. And while I am silent for that minute or two, I will think about John Lennon’s words in the hope that no more young Canadian lives are lost in a place where we really shouldn’t be:

“Give peace a chance.”