Prayers for everyone
I am responding to a letter by Max Shierlaw relating to the Anzac Day services. Max was concerned that I would pay tribute to conscientious objectors at an Anzac service.
I did not in fact pay tribute to them, but I did include them in my prayers.
On Anzac Day we remember particularly the sacrifices of those who went to war and who died, or who were wounded or traumatised by this experience.
We also remember those who lost loved ones, or who found them permanently changed because of the trauma of war.
It seems to me, though, that the suffering doesn’t end there. History shows that war can create injustice as well as alleviate it. War is a last resort and, if as a nation we enter into it, we need to do all we can to ensure that we maintain our humanity and compassion in the process.
If we don’t do that, we actually damage and diminish our society and the values we are fighting to uphold.
Among the New Zealanders harmed by war were conscientious objectors.
Until war broke out these people were considered by many to be friends and good neighbours, and were contributing to our society in all sorts of positive ways.
However, as a result of their moral convictions, they were typically imprisoned and were often abused and treated by others as cowards who were disloyal to the nation.
Because of this mistreatment, especially during the First World War, many conscientious objectors suffered serious harm.
That is why I also prayed for ‘‘those who did not go to war and who suffered as prisoners of conscience’’.
It was war and the way our society responded to it that caused them this suffering.
In my prayer I said, ‘‘Have mercy on us, God, for all the damage done by people to people in war.’’
If our narrative of war only focuses on noble self-sacrifice on the battlefield, we will end up denying the range of damage that war actually does.
It is both realistic and appropriate on ANZAC Day to remember all who have suffered during the wars our nation has fought. households across this city and council takes any consideration of rates increases very seriously.