Peace, quiet and other ideals

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - Richard Ma­honey richard@glen­gar­rynews.ca

Peace and quiet have be­come unattain­able ideals in our world. Although there seems to be an app for ev­ery­thing these days, we will never achieve world­wide peace. There will al­ways be some sort of con­flict on this planet, for as long as it is around. And quiet. OMG! LOL! Like, that is so to­tally im­pos­si­ble.

How­ever, with Re­mem­brance Day ap­proach­ing, we are sup­posed to at least at­tempt to look be­yond our tiny world and tiny de­vices and be re­spect­ful, pen­sive and re­flect on big­ger is­sues that are not all about our­selves.

When our lives are dom­i­nated by “so­cial me­dia,” it is so easy to share sen­ti­ments. Sadly, often the air is filled with neg­a­tive feel­ings. Hate can be spewed in­stan­ta­neously. Friends for­ever can be rapidly dissed, blocked, un­friended.

Cre­at­ing and shar­ing thought­ful and car­ing thoughts ev­i­dently re­quire more ef­fort, and time, than gush­ing out crit­i­cism. Lash­ing out de­mands lit­tle thought.

But let us try to inch away from our screens and try to find a few mo­ments to think of the count­less num­ber of peo­ple who made the supreme sac­ri­fices so we can con­tinue to live in one of the most free coun­tries in the world, and have the right to spew al­most any­thing we want.

Novem­ber 11 is spe­cial this year. A cen­tury ago, the First World War ended. That was sup­posed to have been the War To End All Wars. But, of course, that was fol­lowed by World War II, Korea, Afghanistan and a plethora of other con­flicts. The sense­less de­struc­tion has not stopped, it has merely taken dif­fer­ent forms over the last 100 years.

The global wars left an in­deli­ble mark on com­mu­ni­ties across the coun- try. No­body has been un­touched as the young marched off to fight the good fight in far-off lands.

Imag­ine the eu­pho­ria of that early morn­ing of Novem­ber 11, 1918 when word was reached that there would be peace.

While the trench war­fare would end, an­other bat­tle would con­tinue on the home front -- Span­ish Flu was tak­ing a deadly toll. But the boys were com­ing home, and the fu­ture looked so bright. Al­most ev­ery ham­let and vil­lage in our coun­try has some con­nec­tion to that Great War.

Names and dates on ceno­taphs and plaques pay trib­ute to the gal­lant and the brave, who never grew old.

The long lists of ca­su­al­ties are stag­ger­ing. It is im­pos­si­ble to fathom the emo­tions of those whose lives have been de­stroyed by wars.

And yet we are obliged to try to free up some time, only once a year, to think of the price that has been paid for our lib­erty.

Of course, like ev­ery­thing else, re­mem­brance is a topic of heated dis­cus­sion Out There on So­cial Me­dia, where some­body is telling us how we should prop­erly hon­our our vet­er­ans.

Some of the sug­gested forms of re­mem­brance in­clude re­quire­ments that ev­ery­one wear a poppy, sup­port the mil­i­tary, not put up Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions be­fore Novem­ber 12, and not buy any­thing on Novem­ber 11. Ob­vi­ously, we are free to ob­serve the cen­ten­nial of the Ar­mistice Day in any way we see fit. But at­tend­ing a Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony re­quires lit­tle ef­fort. If we can’t make it to a cer­e­mony to­day, we should all try to at least ob­serve a mo­ment of si­lence at the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month.

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