The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

In Memoriam

black-angel-by-sy-parrishIt’s Memorial Day.  I gather for many it’s just another long weekend, but I know that for many it’s what Remembrance Day is for Canadians like myself: a day to remember those who have died in war.  I won’t say “died to protect our freedom” or any such trite BS, because with few exceptions, most wars had nothing to do with protecting anyone’s freedom, but they did die, nonetheless, for us.

Their blood is on our hands, sticky and wet, and it will never dry. Why?

Because we live in democracies.  Because we elected the leaders who sent them to war.  Whether you think those wars are justified, or not, at the end of the day, we bear the collective guilt of their deaths.  They died due to the decisions we made, the society we live in.

Oh, we can say “I did everything I could to oppose the war”, whether that’s Iraq or Vietnam, or some other war.  But even if that’s true, well, you failed, didn’t you?  (Didn’t I?)   And so off went the young men and women, and they died, or they were maimed, or their brain case got knocked around and they came back shaking, and they wake up screaming at night, and they can’t control their emotions and they’ll never be the same again.

It’s one of the ironies of democracy that we’re all responsible, collectively, and yet each of us, individually, can say “but not me, I voted against him” or “I protested against that policy”.  And because it’s true, each of us can feel, in the end, that the deaths and suffering caused by the society, whether in war, or through a horrific medical system, or through abuses in the penal system, aren’t our fault.

But is it true?  Or is it true instead, that we failed, that we support the system with both our consent and our tax dollars, and that we are therefor complicit in what it does?

I don’t know.  But I do know this, on this Memorial day, even if it’s not a Canadian holiday, I’m thinking of those who died, both soldiers and civilian.

And at the very least, I know I failed.


Glenn Greenwald Hammers Preventative Detention


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1 Comment

  1. senecal

    I have to agree with you, Ian. Even though there was nothing we could do, deep down we know we failed in some way. We failed by not resisting the system, by going along, just as someone in a disfunctional family fails by not bringing the disfunction (say, an alcoholic, abusive father ) to light.

    Great leaders/individuals, like Martin Luther King, draw a line in the sand, put themselves on the line, and bring the system to a halt. The put the moral imperative first, above expedience, comfort, safety.

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