remembrance day: not denial and distortion, not spin and propaganda

David Watts:
So despite the popular rallying "for King and country," the outbreak of war in 1914 was not a coming together but a coming apart of a European order. Unlike in 1939 when there was belated admission that a unified effort was needed to stop Nazi aggression, the 1914 road to hostilities had a random pattern of breakdown. And when the war ended in 1918, the breakdown of the old order was complete.

The empires of Britain and France were severely crippled. Four other empires were destroyed and the regimes that ultimately replaced them were more menacing than what had existed before. Italy and Germany fell under dictators whose policies led to another world war. Russia came under Bolshevist rule, leading to the Cold War. The Turkish empire was replaced by increased Western involvement in the Middle East with results that include militant Islamism, the Arab-Israeli struggle and the regimes in Libya and Syria. These, and not freedom and democracy, were results of the Great War that ended on Nov. 11, 1918.

How then shall we commemorate that day, 94 years and several wars later? Not by reciting slogans that no longer have meaning. Not by staging another exercise in spin and propaganda that perpetuates the mindless drift that led to that conflict. These are not remembrance but denial and distortion of what happened.

The greatest acts of re-membering are those that take seriously the bringing together of a body in an affirmation of wholeness. This is what Gandhi tried to do on the Indian sub-continent. This is what Nelson Mandela did in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. And this is what happens when Axis and Allied fighting men meet on former battlegrounds, and veterans and war resisters meet to transcend old divisions.
Read it here.

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