Monday, November 10, 2014

Why Not End War?

*Disclaimer* Remembrance Day is a pet peeve of mine and, while expressing my ideas on the subject, what I say can sometimes come across as saying that veterans do not deserve our thanks. This is not the case – I simply believe they should not be hero worshipped because that leads to others following in their footsteps and suffering as the veterans have (or falling in battle, causing their families to suffer). I also believe that Remembrance Day should be focused on remembering the tragedies of war so we can stop repeating our mistakes. Gratitude to those who have sacrificed for us should be a constant, passive thing, not something that dominates a day that was once – and should still be – dedicated to peace. If you have strong emotions related to this subject, you may want to stop reading now.

            One day I thought to myself, wouldn't the world be a much better place if every country in the world disbanded their armies and ceased production of all weapons? What a wonderful world that would be.

            Then I stopped to think about what would actually happen.

            According to Wikipedia, Canada has 104,150 people in militaristic jobs. The UK has 371,360. USA, 2,231,447. I started to add up all the countries, then decided it would take too long. I was at over ten million, though, and I’d barely scratched the surface. This doesn't even include the researchers or the people who make the weapons and uniforms.

            So, what would happen if the world did away with war and violence? Mass unemployment. Certainly some of those jobs could be repurposed, but there already aren't enough jobs to go around.

            Why not just have those people in reserve, trained and ready in case we are attacked? Because if no one is fighting, people begin to wonder why their taxes are paying all these people. So the soldiers are sent off to fight – and often to die, which (dare I say it) “conveniently” eliminates the excess population that the world doesn't have enough jobs for.

            It all becomes a great cycle then. We need war so we can employ soldiers so people can afford to eat. If we eliminate war, the whole economy comes crashing down around our ears.

            Like many others, I dream of a world at peace, but it will never happen unless we drastically change the way our economy works. My vote is that we stop siphoning money off of arts programs and we flood the world with artists.

            That is something I’d like you to think about this Remembrance Day (or whatever November 11th is in your country). I’d like you to think about how much society pressures us into remembering and thanking veterans, how we are taught that they are heroes so that more of us will follow in their footsteps.

            I want you to think about all the lives lost or ruined because we don’t know how to make the economy work without war. What a waste.

Click here to find the charity anthology containing a couple of my short stories.

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If there's any subject you'd like to see me ramble on about, feel free to leave a comment asking me to do so.


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  2. I've had trouble with Remembrance Day ever since I was a kid with an undoubtably German surname, being bullied after the Remembrance Day assemblies at school, being called "Nazi" and feeling like "the enemy" because I'd become the target of the hatred of the other kids, a hatred inspired by the way the assemblies were handled. But I knew I was as Canadian as the other kids were! Yes, my Dad was from Germany and had been forced to fight in the German army when he was just a teen, but that didn't define who he was (he was, in fact, a very kind & generous man) and it didn't define me and certainly didn't make ME an enemy.

    Turning veterans into heroes doesn't work for me, either, Jonathan. There are so many reasons people go off to serve in military roles, and in those military roles face horrors we wouldn't want to imagine and do things they would never do otherwise. Turning them into heroes seems to make the loss of innocence, loss of years or loss of life feel less wasteful, less painful. If one of my sons were to be traumatized, injured or killed in battle, I wouldn't want to think it was for nothing. (The sad truth is, if we keep engaging in warfare, we have failed and the losses HAVE been for nothing.)

    One of the ways Remembrance Day is handled is to express gratitude for this country and the many, many freedoms and advantages we have in Canada. I don't mean to be disrespectful to the veterans who lost so much as they served their country, but I am not convinced by the propaganda claiming that Canada's rights and freedoms were at great risk from Germany and its allies. Helping our neighbours whose rights and freedoms were being violated was admirable, yes, but do we really owe our eternal gratitude to our veterans? I tend to think that our gratitude should be directed to all the Canadian people over the decades who have worked so incredibly hard to build and protect the systems of rights and freedoms, the pursuit of peace, the social safety networks, the educational opportunities, the medical services and so on and so on, that make this country what it is. Yes, we could lose these things to tyrants, but we shouldn't depend on our armed forces to protect what we have; it's up to each and every one of us to do everything we can to ensure that these rights and freedoms and services continue for the generations who follow. Each and every one of us needs to be a hero, defending what makes Canada such a great country.

    There are many tyrants in our world today. How will we deal with them? Is warfare the only way. Centuries upon centuries of warfare, generations upon generations of suffering, millions upon millions of deaths, surely ought to teach us that warfare doesn't work. Aren't we smart enough or creative enough to try something new?!?